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Bill to Reauthorize Career and Technical Education Law Passed by U.S. House

The House of Representatives voted to approve a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act on Tuesday, after the House education committee unanimously backed the bill earlier this year.

The Perkins Act has not been reauthorized since 2006, but the proposed reauthorization, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, makes several notable changes to existing law. Among them are: 

  • There's a new definition of which students can be classified as "concentrators" in career and technical education. The bill defines a concentrator as a secondary student who has "completed three or more career and technical education courses, or completed at least two courses in [a] single career and technical education program or program of study."
  • States would be able to withhold a greater share of their federal CTE funding under Perkins for their own competitive grants or formulas.
  • A new grant program, overseen by the education secretary, would award money to programs that align CTE with states' workforce needs. 
  • Schools are supposed to get less paperwork dumped on them when it comes to CTE.

The House committee passed the bill by a vote of 37-0 in July.

It was co-authored by Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. Speaking on the House floor Tuesday before the vote, Thompson also said the bill reduces Washington's role in CTE: "By streamlining performance measures, the bill empowers state and local leaders rather than the federal government."

Noting that the Perkins Act impacts over 11 million American students across the country, Clark also said on the House floor that, "This legislation will comprehensively update the program, overhauling how government invests in our workforce and strengthens American competitiveness and jobs training."

When we interviewed Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., for a recent article about pressing education issues in Congress and other matters, she expressed optimism about the chances of the CTE bill passing Congress. The Senate could also make progress on its own version of Perkins reauthorization soon.

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