by Christopher Paslay
President Trump prepares to sign a bipartisan overhaul of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, strengthening funding and support for CTE programs across the country.
Although the Philadelphia School District recently cut admission standards at its four CTE schools—sparking a “quality vs. equity” debate—there is some good news on the vocational education front: President Trump is set to sign a bill that will reenergize the $1.1 billion program and help America’s young people enter the work force with the skills they need to succeed.
According to Education Week:
Congress passed a bipartisan overhaul of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act on Wednesday and sent it for signature to President Donald Trump, who has made career and technical education, or CTE, a priority for his administration.
The $1.1 billion program, last reauthorized in 2006, provides funding for job training and related programs for high school students, many of whom may be seeking postsecondary options other than a four-year college degree, as well as for students in higher education. The Senate bill to revamp Perkins was co-authored by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and is called the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The House, which passed its own version of a Perkins reauthorization last year, approved CTE reauthorization as amended by the Senate version. The legislation passed via voice vote.
Momentum behind the Perkins legislation has grown in recent weeks, after a lobbying effort by the Trump administration on Capitol Hill that included presidential senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who is Trump’s daughter. The legislation sailed through the Senate education committee last month and was lavished with praise by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Some highlights of the bill include:
- The secretary of education would be barred from dictating states’ CTE assessments or standards. States would also set their own goals under the legislation.
- States would have to make “meaningful progress” toward meeting their own goals under the proposed bill.
- The legislation creates “core indicators” for the performance of students concentrating in CTE, including their graduation rate and the percentage who continue on to either postsecondary education or advanced training within a certain time frame.
- It also requires schools to align career and technical education programs with the needs of the state or local communities.
The reauthorization of the bill has been a priority of the business community as well as America’s teachers’ unions. Interestingly, the American Federation of Teachers and the Council of Chief State School Officers praised the legislation’s progress, including AFT President Randi Weingarten, who’s been lobbying lawmakers to increase spending on CTE.