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The Career and Technical Education Excellence and Equity Act, will rewrite the Carl D. Perkins Act, which has not been updated since 2006. The bill would support innovation in CTE and redesign the high school experience by creating a grant program to fund partnerships between school districts, employers, and institutions of higher education, with the goal of preparing more students for postsecondary education and the workforce. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley MooreCapito(R-WV), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the Career and Technical Education Excellence and Equity Act.
“To grow the most talented workforce in the world, we need to equip students with the skills to succeed in the twenty-first-century economy,” said Kaine. “A high school education should prepare students for any pathway they choose, whether that’s attending a four-year university, earning credentials from a community college program or getting a high-skilled job after graduation. Our bill would provide federal funding to support schools as they redesign curriculum to incorporate impressive CTE programs like the ones I’ve visited at schools across Virginia.”
Participating students would graduate from high school with an industry recognized credential or credit toward a postsecondary education degree or certificate, as well as be better prepared to enroll in a postsecondary education program aligned with their career path without the need for remediation.
Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise
offered his support for the legislation, saying in a press release
, “There is a mismatch between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers. This bipartisan legislation casts a wide net, bringing in employers, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates to make the high school experience more engaging for students and more relevant to today’s job market.”
ED emphasized the importance of high-quality CTE programs that are academically rigorous and aligned with workforce demands in a recent blog post
, noting, “Most professions and careers in the 2016 and future economies require strong academic foundation skills, considerable technical knowledge and skills, and well-developed employability skills and attributes.” CTE programs can deliver these skills, with research showing that secondary CTE students are more likely to graduate from high school than non-CTE students, the post says.
The demand for high-quality CTE opportunities is evident in the large numbers of applicants for very few spots at CTE programs, and waiting lists at schools that serve communities with large populations of traditionally underserved students, the blog post notes. “The take away is that in communities where the need is greatest, access to good programs is a real problem. No access, no skills, no good jobs.” While the demand is growing, there is not a comparable supply, creating many missed opportunities to put students on paths toward college and a career, the post says.
ED also announced a Career and Technical Education Makeover Challenge, offering $200,000 to be divided among schools that submit designs for an innovative CTE makerspace. “Makerspaces provide students the materials and environment they need to create, invent, tinker, and explore,” explains the challenge website
, “helping them build vital career skills, including critical thinking, planning, communication, and problem solving.” Eligible schools will have the opportunity to participate in a six-week CTE Makeover Bootcamp and selected honorees will receive $20,000 to build their makerspace.