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I’d like to thank our panel of witnesses and my colleagues for joining today’s very serious discussion on the safety and security of the Job Corps program. I also want to note my disappointment that the Office of Job Corps has decided not to testify today. Their attendance would have provided the committee with important information about the program and the measures taken by the Office of Job Corps to address these safety concerns.
The Job Corps program is intended to help some of our nation’s most disadvantaged youth receive high quality education, workforce development, and support services in order to become more employable, responsible, and productive citizens. The very purpose of the program is to serve those who are hard to serve and the safety of students and instructors within the Job Corps program should be priority one. Unfortunately that is not the case, and that is what brings us to today’s hearing.
The work of this committee, as well as other government bodies such as the Inspector General, have found a systemic and alarming lack of oversight in the safety and security of the Jobs Corps program, and we have reached a critical point where lives are in real danger if congress does not act.
In fact, over 30 different government reports and audits have raised concerns over the safety and security of the Jobs Corps program. A 2009 IG report even noted that “40 percent of 235 significant incidents occurring at [six] centers during our audit period were not reported.”
Even in 2015, an IG report specifically stated, “Job Corps needs to improve enforcement and oversight of student disciplinary policies to better protect students and staff.”
What is truly shocking and sad is that nine student deaths and a number other violent or health related incidents have occurred just since 2015 as a result of lapses in safety and security.
These reports are extremely troubling, and no program sponsored by the federal government should have such tragedies associated with it.
This committee has spent almost two years investigating and asking about these repeated lapses in safety and security within the Job Corps program, and we are still without answers.
What we do know is that the deficiencies in proper security measures are not isolated, or associated with one specific Job Corps center. This is a systemic problem throughout the Job Corps program.
The security failures within Job Corps are a failure in basic good governance, and jeopardize the safety of American citizens.
Today we will hear testimony from witnesses who have made findings highlighting the troubling lack of safety and oversight in Job Corps centers.
We will hear testimony of failures in reporting violent incidents, security lapses, and a lack of cooperation with law enforcement officials.
While these facts may be troubling, it is vital that we as a committee understand just where the lack of oversight has occurred in order for us to make proper recommendations to keep the Job Corps program safe for the future.
The Jobs Corps program was designed to help disadvantaged young people gain the skills they need to achieve a good education; find a good-paying job; and have a successful life.
Putting the students and instructors of the Job Corps program in harm’s way does a disservice to its participants and the American taxpayers.
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Apprenticeships, Technical Education Offer a Path to a Successful Workforce – ‘College-only’ Is a Myth
By Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
In making his impassioned speech on how our county’s economy can grow through tax reform, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Tuesday, “We need to connect people with the skills they need to get good-paying, in-demand jobs.”
Speaker Ryan is absolutely right, and the House is immediately answering the Speaker’s call to action.
There is a myth about success as it relates to education in this country. Too many Americans have come to believe that the pathway to a successful career lies solely on a college campus, and in a baccalaureate degree.
For many Americans this is not the case, and not the best path they can take to find the skills needed to ultimately lead them to the overall goal of an education — a good paying job and a successful life.
An unfortunate truth is that America is still facing a recovering economy, and a widening skills gap that is putting our workforce at a disadvantage to succeed in a 21st century economy. While companies across the country have openings for high paying jobs, and are anxious to hire, many workers lack the skills and adequate education needed to qualify and compete for those jobs.
We must act soon. Already we face a great shortage of workers with the skills to fill the current 6 million vacant jobs, and our economy is currently on track to face a shortage of 11 million workers who have the necessary credentials to satisfy the needs of the country by 2022.
Such a shortage in our workforce does not allow Americans to be on track to compete in a global marketplace. We have arrived at this shortage, in large part, because of the way we think about education and skills-focused education in this country.
The fact is, all workers need skills that lead to a vocation. More than thirty years ago, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act took an important step in recognizing that baccalaureate programs did not necessarily equip people with the skills they needed to join the workforce. The Perkins Act and its resulting investment in skills-focused education has provided countless stories of success for students who have learned skills to find in-demand jobs, at a fraction of the cost of a baccalaureate degree.
These are students who find high-quality education and career development opportunities in their own communities, and are often recruited by companies in their own backyard who are in need of workers ready to play a role in a 21st century workforce.Last week, President Trump took an historic step towards recognizing the power of apprenticeships and skills-focused education in building tomorrow’s economy. The president’s action builds on the work Republicans in Congress have already begun to strengthen our workforce and close the skills gap.
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Many people in this country grow up dreaming about the college experience — leaving home and starting off on their own in the world — hoping to obtain the education and skills they need to be successful in life. With more than 7,000 postsecondary institutions in the U.S. to choose from, selecting the best school and finding the best way to pay for it can be a daunting task.
In fact, just this morning, some key details of a new report — set to be fully unveiled early next month — were publicly released, and they provide some fresh insights into how prospective students make important decisions that affect their long-term academic and professional futures.
According to the preliminary findings of a national survey conducted by Gallup in partnership with the Strada Education Network, most people rely on a family member or relative when deciding which major or field to choose. And as we all know, this decision, often impacts which college or university a person decides to attend.
Fortunately, there are those who are relying on trusted high school counselors or college advisors. Very few turn to online resources, including websites maintained by schools. But it is also troubling to learn that more than 20 percent of individuals with some college experience never sought the advice of anyone or used any other available resources as they made these important decisions.
Without objection, I would like submit for the record a letter from Strada highlighting some of the key findings of this national survey. Hearing no objections, the letter will be made a part of the record.
In 2008, Congress took steps to improve transparency in higher education. Because of those reforms, colleges and universities are making information about price, financial aid, demographics, and graduation rates more readily available to the public. Many of these initiatives provide helpful resources to students and their families, but clearly there is more work to be done.
First, much of the information currently available is about first-time, full-time students — despite the fact that only 21 percent of undergraduate students are attending postsecondary education full-time and for the first-time. Today’s college students come from a variety of backgrounds that no longer neatly fits into the traditional full-time student schedule, which is why they need information that properly reflects the unique circumstances they face.
Secondly, we want to be sure that institutions are not overburdened with red tape. Collecting this information can be time-consuming. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, also known as IPEDS, currently requires institutions to complete 12 separate surveys capturing hundreds of pages of data taking nearly one million combined hours each year to complete. The time and money universities and colleges spend on data collection requirements can lead to higher costs that inevitably affect the students who attend.
Third, it’s important that we as policymakers can properly evaluate the success of the federal student aid system and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly. Unfortunately, in many ways, that’s just not the case today.
\Much of the information surrounding students defaulting on their loans is unknown. We don’t know how much they’ve paid back before defaulting on the loan. We also don’t know the type of repayment plans they are using when they default. We also don’t know how much the various income-driven repayment programs are really costing taxpayers or how many students who receive a Pell grant are actually graduating.
Quite frankly, we don’t really know what’s working and what’s not. As policymakers, we need to be better equipped to conduct proper oversight of how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Lastly, but most importantly, we must balance the need for transparency and accountability with the need to protect student privacy and maintain a limited federal role. Striking that balance is never easy. However, the need to provide students and policymakers with more information — no matter how valuable that information may be — should never come at the expense of student privacy.
At the end of the day, the college experience should be a joyous occasion for students and their families. That’s why it’s important for the federal student aid system to be efficient and effective. And that’s why it is important to do everything we can to provide better transparency so students are able to make informed decisions.
As we work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, empowering students and families and improving accountability will be leading priorities. I’m looking forward to hearing the testimonies of this panel of witness who will have great insight into how we can do just that. Thank you, again, for your attendance.
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