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Senators Make Bipartisan Push to Boost Career and Technical Education Teachers

In a bid to create a more robust supply of career and technical education teachers, four U.S. senators are backing legislation to create a new residency program for people who want to become CTE educators.

The Creating Quality Technical Educators Act was introduced Tuesday by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, along with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V. 

The bill would create "partnership grants for the preparation of career and technical education teachers" that are open to both mid-career professionals and those seeking initial licensure to teach CTE. They're also open to current educators without subject-matter expertise in CTE.

Program participants would need to commit to working with a mentor teacher for two years, and get continuing professional development for three years. Those who are trained through the grants would have to serve as full-time CTE educators in a "high need" district for at least three years. 

The legislation would act as an amendment to the Higher Education Act. It's got the backing of the American Federation of Teachers, and the two big CTE organizations: the Association for Career and Technical Education, and Advance CTE. The four senators introduced a similar bill in 2014. 

"Quality CTE teachers play a key role in expanding access to high quality programs and making sure more students and parents recognize the value of a CTE education—all of which helps lead to more and better job opportunities for students," Portman said in a statement accompanying the bill's release.

And Kaine said the legislation would help ensure "we have enough high-quality CTE teachers in schools." (We wrote about Kaine's work on career and technical education when he was picked by Hillary Clinton to be the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2016.)

While the bill's bipartisan backing probably doesn't hurt its chances, education legislation of any kind (let alone legislation of any kind) has had a hard time getting the approval of both the House and Senate in this Congress.

To name one relevant example: Last summer, the House passed a bill reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. It gives states more flexibility over CTE programs. That legislation also had bipartisan backing, with lead sponsors Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

Yet Perkins reauthorization has languished in the Senate, and disputes over a separate CTE bill under consideration in 2016 appear to still be gumming up the works there. (The Higher Education Act, incidentally, is probably the most high-profile education bill under consideration in Congress, but progress on that bill appears to have also stalled.) 

Read the full text of the Creating Quality Technical Educators Act below:

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