I am pleased to report that after more than two years of steadfast pushing “lobbying” your Senator’s and their staff, we have finally gotten word that our career and technical education “CTE or Perkins” legislation will receive a vote later this month.
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has told us even if he and Senator Patty Murray(D-WA), the top Democrat for the Committtee are unable to come to a bipartisan compromise on the legislation we will have a vote. “Hopefully it will be bipartisan,” Alexander said.
Several points of contention between Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray have yet to be worked out, but there was “no need to delay it any further. “If we have differences of opinion, we can just vote,” said Alexander.
The career and technical education bill has been a top priority for ACCA, as part of our efforts to advance the workforce constraints our members are facing. Having Senator Alexander make a promise for us to have a Committee vote June 20th is welcome news.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (P.L. 109-270) was last updated more than a decade ago in 2006. ACCA successful pushed the bipartisan passage of similar legislation in the House last year (H.R. 2353) that would more closely align education programs that teach students certain skills with the needs of the local workforce.
Senators Murray’s and Alexander’s staff have spent several years working to update the Perkins law, but have been unable to compromise on several issues. One point of contention is how much power the Education secretary will have in overseeing the program. Alexander wants limitations similar to those passed in the 2015 national K-12 law (P.L. 114-95). Murray says while such restrictions were needed for the K-12 programs, the career and technical education program doesn’t have major issues with federal department oversight.
Alexander has also proposed allowing states, the recipients of Perkins funding, to give money to individual students to use for the educational program of their choice. Alexander has compared the option to the federal Pell Grants low-income students use to attend colleges or universities.
Several advocacy groups representing state officials and teachers involved with career and technical education said they would not support giving funds to individual students.
ACCA strongly encourages Senate leaders to continue the long history of CTE and Perkins being bipartisan issues. The need for additional funding, and a program with a focus on providing approved technical training for in demand jobs is far to important for the Senate to continue to kick this can down the road. We hope the Senate will follow the House’s lead, and come to a bipartisan compromise.