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Under Trump and DeVos, Could Time Be Right to Update the Nation’s Career and Technical Education Law?

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April 17, 2017 12:03 pm


The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Educational Improvement Act (Perkins), is the nation’s largest federal investment in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE), but the law hasn’t been updated in over ten years. How are students supposed to get access to high-quality educational programs that prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow with a law more than a decade old?

Could now be the right time for a reauthorization of Perkins, given the support and attention from the Trump administration on the importance of career training?

After attending President Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the following statement:

“The best workforce is an educated workforce, and this administration is committed to increasing access to career and technical education for college students and adults alike. By encouraging public-private partnerships, we can help connect students with prospective employers and provide those students with the necessary skills to find a good-paying job in their communities.”

And just last week, President Trump said his administration plans to “spend a lot of money” on education to help close the skills gap and increase the number of career-ready students graduating from high school, a curious statement considering the deep cuts to education funding in his “skinny” budget proposal.

Last year, advocates expressed hope that a rewrite of Perkins would be completed after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan reauthorization proposal, but the Senate ultimately failed to act on the bill. Earlier this year, the House education subcommittee again brought the process back to life with a recent hearing in on strengthening CTE, bringing Mike Rowe, host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs,” to testify (the recap in our Federal Flash below is worth the watch!).

As the House begins to move the Perkins reauthorization process forward, the Alliance shared recommendations building upon the great progress made in the last proposal to further strengthen and improve CTE programs and ensure they prepare students, especially those that are traditionally underserved, for jobs in the twenty-first-century economy.

The recommendations focus on policies designed to

  • strengthen the role of employers to ensure CTE programs of study align with industry needs and to encourage the facilitation of high-quality work-based learning;
  • increase the number of students who receive a postsecondary credential by strengthening the alignment between local educational agencies and institutions of higher education
  • strengthen student supports that address the comprehensive needs of special student populations, including underrepresented student subgroups; and
  • clarify that Perkins funds may be used for integrated professional development and provide opportunities for cross-credentialing.
  • allow Perkins funds to be used for paid-internships

See the full set of recommendations here.

The Alliance is encouraging the House Education and Workforce Committee to include these recommendations in its Perkins reauthorization proposal, because high-quality CTE, where schools are held accountable for the outcomes of traditionally underserved students, isn’t a red or blue issue, it’s an American issue.


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