Collaborating to Close Gender Gap

This past summer the White House hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit announcing efforts taken under the Obama administration to ensure that all women and girls have equal rights, treatment, and protections. The goal of the summit was to build a roadmap for future policymakers, stakeholders and advocates to continue to increase opportunities for women and girls.

Left to right: Daniel Parino, Jyoti Jasrasaria, Heather Kulp, Johan Uvin and Carol Aguirre

Left to right: Harvard Students Daniel Parino, Jyoti Jasrasaria, with HNMCP Clinical Instructor, Heather Kulp, Johan Uvin, and Carol Aguirre

One of the many initiatives announced at the summit was the collaboration between the U.S. the Department of Education’s (ED), Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) to develop a salary negotiation toolkit for community college students as part of the Administration’s efforts to advance equal pay policies. This toolkit provides community college students, including young women, with the knowledge and tools that can help them better prepare to negotiate their first salary. As we know, negotiating your salary early in your career can boost your lifetime earnings.

Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and the gap is even wider for women of color. In 2014, the Shriver Report released A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, where they report that black women make only 60 cents, while Latinas make 55 cents, for every dollar that a white man earns.

Three possible explanations for a difference in pay between women and men are unintentional gender-based discrimination, a difference in the way women and men approach salary negotiations, and overt sexism. While many individuals experience difficulties negotiating job terms or an increase in pay, women experience additional challenges when negotiating pay and other job benefits.

Over the last eight years new efforts and initiatives were set in place to better address the gender gap pay, encouraging men and women to demand equality and fairness in the workplace. However, very few salary negotiation resources, if any, exist specifically for community colleges students. This is why OCTAE partnered with HNMCP to create the Salary Negotiation Toolkit. The toolkit was created by Jyoti Jasrasaria and Daniel Parino under consultation with OCTAE and the Women’s Bureau, as part of their second year law program at Harvard Law School. The Toolkit is now available for free on HNMCP’s website.

While much has changed, there remains much to be done. Help bridge the gender gap by practicing and implementing negotiating skills, sharing resources, like the Toolkit, and most importantly, know your worth in the workplace.

Posted by
Management and Program Analyst, Direct Loans Division, Federal Student Aid on detail with OCTAE as a Community Colleges Specialist.

Why Are We Not Giving Women a Second Chance?

Are women in the United States more dangerous and prone to criminal activity than those in other countries?  Looking solely at criminal justice statistics, one may tend to believe this idea.  While incarceration rates for women have reached historic highs, women in this country are no more likely to be a threat to our society as they would be in any other country.  Why, then, has the U.S. disproportionately put women behind bars?

Decades of questionable criminal justice policies in our country have created a culture of over incarceration that is unmatched by any other nation.  We need to pay more attention to the plight of incarcerated women in order to ensure they are offered the same educational and workforce opportunities as men. The Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) recently conducted a survey of the competency levels of incarcerated adults. Amongst the data, they found that 85 percent of incarcerated women did not complete any form of education beyond a high school diploma or GED while incarcerated.[1]  Today’s economy is increasingly demanding and it is important that everyone is prepared to compete in it.  It is estimated that as early as 2018, nearly two-thirds of all job announcement will require applicants to have achieved some level of postsecondary education. [2]  We as a society cannot afford to continue to incarcerate our mothers, sisters, and daughters without giving them the proper resources for a second chance.

While only 5 percent of the world’s population of women live in the U.S., our country is home to almost 30 percent of the world’s incarcerated women (twice the percentage as China and four times as much as Russia).[3]  In fact, the top 44 jurisdictions of incarcerated women in the world are composed of individual U.S. states (with the exception of the U.S. as a whole and Thailand).[4]  Women represent the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population with an incarceration rate that is double that of men in the past 30 years.[5]  From 1980 to 2014, the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 700 percent, from 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in 2014.[6]

This skyrocketing number of incarcerated women is clearly a problem. So how did we get here? While there is no single reason for this spike, however, the war on drugs is one possible explanation for the increase.  A zero tolerance anti-drug campaign combined with the adoption of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug offenses played a role in contributing to increased incarceration rates.  Women today are twice as likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses as they were in 1986 and almost twice as likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses as men.[7]

Increased contact with the justice system is not just a problem for adult women. The largest percentage of incarcerated girls are incarcerated due to status offenses (crimes that would not otherwise be classified as a crime for adults such as skipping school and running away) and technical violations.[8]  Entering the justice system at this young age may create a dangerous cycle of incarceration that is difficult to escape. This cycle can be exacerbated if proper intervention and support is not provided.

While this over-incarceration presents a serious problem for our country, a tremendous opportunity is also ahead of us.  Criminal justice reform is a topic that has sparked a bipartisan interest.   In 2014 and 2015 alone, 46 states enacted 201 bills, executive orders, and ballot propositions to reform some aspect of their criminal justice system.[9] While this is encouraging, it is important to point out that while the rates and population of incarcerated women have significantly increased, women represent only 7 percent of the U.S. incarcerated population today.[10]  It may be easy for a jurisdiction to overlook the alarming trends of incarcerated women if they look at their population in the aggregate.  As criminal justice reform continues, it is important that we take into account the unique challenges facing women when we design policies and interventions to enact these reforms.

Daniel Gaytan

Guest Blogger: Daniel Gaytan
Policy Analyst
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Providing incarcerated women with the same educational and workforce resources that are currently available to men is an important and easy first step to reduce their chances of recidivating.  It is up to each of us in our communities, counties, and states to ensure that we are providing men and women the opportunity for successful reentry.  We know that incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education are 43 percent less likely to recidivate and 58 percent more likely to find post-release employment than individuals who do not participate.[11]  It is time women are given equal access to these programs. 

[1] Rampey, B.D., Keiper, S., Mohadjer, L., Krenzke, T., Li, J., Thornton, N., and Hogan, J. (2016). Highlights from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Training: Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies: 2014 (NCES 2016-040). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.  https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2016040.

[2] Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018 (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2010).

[3] Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon. Women and Girls in the Criminal Justice System: Policy Strategies and Program Options (Civic Research Institute, 2006, 2011). https://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/.

[4] Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon.

[5] American Civil Liberties Union.  Facts about the Over-Incarceration of Women in the United States.   https://www.aclu.org/other/facts-about-over-incarceration-women-united-states 

[6] Carson, E.A. (2015). Prisoners in 2014. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

[7] Carson, E.A.

[8] Sickmund, M., Sladky, M., Kang, T.J., and Puzzanchera, C. (2015). Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

[9] Rebecca Silber, Ram Subramanian, and Maia Spotts. Justice in Review: New Trends in State Sentencing and Corrections 2014-2015. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2016.

[10] Rampey, B.D., Keiper, S., Mohadjer, L., Krenzke, T., Li, J., Thornton, N., and Hogan, J.

[11] Davis, Lois M., Jennifer L. Steele, Robert Bozick, Malcolm Williams, Susan Turner, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Jessica Saunders and Paul S. Steinberg. How Effective Is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here? The Results of a Comprehensive Evaluation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2014. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR564.html, 15.

Six Federal Agencies Commit to Make College Access and Completion a Reality for More Americans

Today, Secretary of Education John King announced the release of a federal interagency letter, Aligning Federal Supports and Program Delivery for College Access and Completion. The interagency letter highlights the latest guidance and resources that clarify how existing provisions within federal programs of the U.S. Departments of Education, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Treasury can be better aligned for postsecondary access and completion. Secretary King made the announcement at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ annual meeting in Austin, Texas, an event that gathered over 1,300 senior leaders from public higher institutions from across North America.

By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require some postsecondary education or training. Studies have shown that college graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn about 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma and are far less likely to face unemployment. Over the course of a lifetime, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without any postsecondary education. However, too many students fail to complete their education due to resource constraints. Because now, more than ever before, a college degree is a necessity for individual economic opportunity and competitiveness, alignment of federal programs and policies towards completion is essential. The strength and long-term success of our nation’s economy weighs on a robust higher education system that helps all students succeed.

The interagency letter lists actions taken by each of the six agencies to better help individuals make one the most important investments one can make in his or her future a reality. For example, the U.S. Department of Education recently issued guidance clarifying requirements that designated public school district homeless liaisons inform all unaccompanied homeless youth identified by the district of their eligibility for independent student status on the FAFSA, and this guidance is linked within the letter. Independent status can help homeless students access more aid to cover tuition and books, as well as help secure reliable room and board. Another example is guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicating that students attending an institution of higher education through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) Employment and Training program at least half-time are exempt from the SNAP student rule and, as a result, potentially eligible for SNAP.

In addition to the joint interagency letter, the U.S. Department of Education released the Innovating and Partnering to Support Completion and Success in Higher Education fact sheet spotlighting the results of initiatives made under the Obama Administration that have helped thousands of Americans enroll in and complete college. Such investments have helped Black and Hispanic students earn over 270,000 more undergraduate degrees in 2013-14 than in 2008-09; and a million more Black and Hispanic students enrolled in college in 2014 than in 2008.

The Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, along with its federal partners, is committed to ensuring that federal provisions and other initiatives fulfill their promise of breaking down barriers to accessing the knowledge and skills needed to attain a well-paying job, support a family, and contribute to our community. With the help of state and local partners, together we can strengthen coordination of programs that connect more people to postsecondary opportunities and leverage federal policies that more effectively serve our communities.

Posted by
Special Assistant Office of the Assistant Secretary OCTAE

Student Voices Kick Off Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2016

“I wasn’t just signed up for a course, I was asked “What pathway do you want to go on?”  I was given options and I didn’t know I had those options, and it opened up another whole door of opportunity for me. Since then I’ve transitioned from the workforce development program…to the community college…and now I’m at the 4-year campus. ..I didn’t know I had those options until someone asked me, “What’s your purpose?” Asking the right questions is how I’m here and thriving in an environment that’s very competitive.”

“Someone came by my [auto repair] garage and asked me about going back to school. I said I have a job, I don’t have time for education, I’m looking for a career path. But she left me the information anyway…This program has done so much for me. I now have a career, I can provide for my family, and…this program has opened my eyes.”

“Academy of Hope has given me the confidence that I need to go on and further my education and to get that certification so that I can go out and help other people.”

These stories of hope, struggle, and inspiration came from a panel of former and current students addressing the annual adult education meeting for state directors and staff.  Their experiences captivated the audience and reinforced the importance of these programs.

These adult students attend or completed a range of programs, including Academy of Hope, a public adult charter school in DC; the University of DC; and a career pathway program partnership with Alexandria, VA Public Schools and VA Dominion Power. The students shared their stories of challenges to get started on an educational path that supported their needs, and their strategies for completing their programs and setting new, higher goals.

During Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and every week, we salute all the youth and adults who are working on their education and thank their teachers and program staff. We are proud of our contribution in ensuring these programs are offered in communities around the country.

Learn more about Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and follow along on social media at #AEFL.

Get Involved in the National Week of Making

The National Week of Making is quickly approaching! We are less than one month away from the June 17th kick-off! There are plenty of ways you can get involved.

Learn about the National Week of MakingPhoto of White House made of Lego blocks

Webinars are being held to provide information about the National Week of Making. The next webinar is being held on Thursday, May 19, at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. If you are not able to make that session, there will be an additional webinar next week. Registration links are provided below:

Webinar Schedule (all times Eastern):

Make a commitment

Let the White House know what new actions, commitments, or other activities you or your organization might be considering by going to the Nation of Makers website and submitting your information on the “What are you making?” form.

Nominate a Champion of Change

If you know someone who has had a significant impact on moving Making forward, you can nominate them as a Champion of Change. As part of the National Week of Making, the White House will be sharing stories of the countless leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators who work daily within their local communities across the country. The Administration wants your help to identify Champions of Change who are working to make advances in technology, platforms, educational opportunities, or spaces that empower even more Americans to become tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Nominations must be submitted by Wednesday May 18, 2016 (it just takes 5 minutes). You can read more about the call for nominations on the White House Blog and submit nominations at https://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Learn about the CTE Makeover Challenge

OCTAE launched the CTE Makeover Challenge to encourage more makerspaces in high schools. Contact your local high school to see if they were one of the more than 600 schools that entered the Challenge. You can learn more information about the Challenge at CTEMakeoverChallenge.com. The CTE Makeover Bootcamp phase of the Challenge will be concluding on May 22 when schools will submit Blueprints for their makerspaces. Stay tuned on #CTEMakeover.

Local activities

We are looking forward to the National Week of Making and invite you to join forces with us from June 17th through the 23rd and get involved in your local community. Here are a few ways folks in the maker community are already active:

  • Posting photos using #NationOfMakers to show your latest creation and share news about your events.
  • Organizing an event and/or hosting an open house at your local school, library, rec center, makerspace or set up a hangout online to connect and share your inventions with Makers across the country. Some have posted their events on a community website such as weekofmaking.org
  • Volunteering to be a mentor for someone who is interested in learning a new skill or find a mentor who would be interested in teaching a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn for a while.
  • Organizing a maker roundtable, maker town hall, or maker tour to convene thought leaders and decision makers in your community. (See what was done in Cleveland.)
  • Your brilliant idea here!

Stay updated

More information about the National Week of Making, National Maker Faire, and Making can be found on the following websites, and share your thoughts and ideas using the following hashtags.

Education: A Key Service in WIOA

Thanks to all who joined the webinar on March 1, we were thrilled to host over 600 participants. Below are the archives and resources shared during the webinar.

Infographics shared during the discussion:

Logo displays One Team; One Vision; One Conversation

Logo from 2016 WIOA National Convening

Find other resources from the WIOA National Convening, including PowerPoints, the participant list, etc., here.

Two excerpts from the transcripts highlight the rich discussion that took place during the webinar:

Serving Individuals with Barriers to Employment

Read More

Strengthening Working Families Initiatives: $25M Funding Opportunity

This is a cross-posted announcement from the Department of Labor. 

DOL announces $25 million available for partnerships that improve access to education and training and quality, affordable child care for parents looking to expand their skills.

These grants reflect the Obama administration’s commitment to support working families and fuel policies aligned with 21st Century workforce realities.

To help parents obtain affordable, quality child care necessary to pursue education and training opportunities leading to good jobs in growing industries, the U.S. Department of Labor today on December 17 the availability of up to $25 million in grants through the Strengthening Working Families Initiative.

The grants will support public-private partnerships that bridge gaps between local workforce development and child-care systems. In addition to addressing these systemic barriers, funded programs will enable parents to access training and customized supportive services needed for IT, health care, advanced manufacturing jobs, and others. All participants in grant funded programs must be custodial parents, legal guardians, foster parents, or others standing in loco parentis with at least one dependent. Up to 25 percent of the grantees total budget may be used to provide quality, affordable care and other services to support their participation in training.

“For too many working parents, access to quality, affordable child care remains a persistent barrier to getting the training and education they need to move forward on a stronger, more sustainable career path,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Our economy works best when we field a full team. That means doing everything we can to provide flexible training options and streamlined services that can help everyone in America realize their dreams.”

Grants up to $4 million will be awarded to partnerships that include the public workforce system, education and training providers, business entities, and local child-care or human-service providers. In addition, all partnerships must include at least three employers. Grantees will also be required to secure an amount equal to at least 25 percent of the total requested funds through outside leveraged resources.

The department will award grants in spring 2016 with program activities beginning in July 2016. For additional information and to apply, read the full funding opportunity announcement online at Grants.gov.

DACA Youth Resource Guide

In an effort to ensure that all students have access to a world-class education that prepares them for college and careers, the U.S. Department of Education, in collaboration with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has released a resource guide to help educators, school leaders, and community organizations better support undocumented youths in secondary and postsecondary schools. Those for whom the guide is intended also include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The guide includes resources aimed at high school and college students and includes:

  • an overview of the rights of undocumented students;
  • tips for educators on how to support undocumented youths in high school and college;
  • key information on non-citizen access to federal financial aid;
  • a list of private scholarships for which undocumented youths might be eligible;
  • information on federally funded adult education programs at the local level; and
  • guidance for migrant students in accessing their education records for DACA.

The aim of the guide is to help educators and school staff to support the academic success of undocumented youths and debunk misconceptions by clarifying the legal rights of undocumented students. The guide also shares information about financial aid options open to undocumented students, and supports youths applying for DACA consideration or renewal.

More information about resources for immigrants, refugees, asylees, and other new Americans can be found here.

Strengthening Transportation Career Pathways

The article is cross-posted on the Department of Transportation Fast Lane Blog

The U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor kicked off the week with some good news today, releasing a joint report, “Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry.”

The new report details future employment hot spots in transportation by industry subsectors, occupations, career areas, and geographic areas. It also identifies good-paying, high-demand transportation jobs and analyzes patterns in the education and work experience required for entry –as well as on-the-job training requirements to help new entrants gain greater competency.

The report concludes that there will be more job opportunities in the near future due to expected growth, retirements, and turnover in the transportation industry. Each year, the U.S. Department of Transportation provides over $51 billion in surface transportation construction funding to build and maintain our Nation’s highways, bridges, and public transportation systems. For every $1 billion in transportation infrastructure investments, 13,000 jobs are projected to be created over the next decade.

But those opportunities won’t fill themselves. Employers will need to hire and train a total of 4.6 million new workers; that’s 1.2 times the current transportation workforce. As U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “Industry and government must increase recruitment and help young people get the skills, training, and apprenticeships they need to gain entry into these careers.”

Recruiting and training new and current workers responsible for the operation, maintenance, and construction of America’s transportation infrastructure will be critical to maintaining a system that meets the economic and security needs of a growing American population.

“Ensuring that America continues to lead the way in the global economy means not only investing in the physical infrastructure that allows us to move goods and keep up with global demand, but also the skills infrastructure to support this growing workforce,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Through smart investments in apprenticeships and other work-based training programs, transportation jobs are helping millions of Americans punch their tickets to the middle class.”

While demand for transportation workers will vary by region, subsector, and occupation, these workforce changes will result in increased job opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled workers across the transportation sector.

“In today’s society, it is important that all of our students are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to compete in a global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “There are incredible opportunities for Americans in the transportation industry and the Department is fully committed to working with leaders in the industry to promote partnerships between education and workforce institutions in order to support training programs that will help our country succeed.”

The Challenge and Opportunity Ahead for our Criminal Justice System

In 2014, the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released “The Growth of Incarceration in the United States, Exploring Causes and Consequences,” which pointed out that U.S. incarceration rates are 5-10 times higher than rates in Western Europe and other major democracies. It noted the staggering racial disparities in incarceration, and called for a significant reduction in rates of imprisonment saying that the rise in the U.S. prison population is “not serving the country well.”

This report didn’t make a huge splash in the press, but it cemented an emerging recognition that our criminal justice policies – our school discipline, “war on drugs,” “truth in sentencing,” and “three strikes and you’re out” policies – of recent decades resulted in unprecedented and costly U.S. incarceration rates that are both ineffective as a crime reduction strategy and harmful to our social fabric. It is safe to say that this is not how we want to be known in the world community. Instead, we should be known for how we engage at-risk populations, how we reinvest in people who deserve a second chance, and how we support the successful transition of justice-involved individuals back into our communities.

Read More