CTE reauthorization passes U.S. Senate

The United States Senate on Monday evening passed its Carl Perkins Act reauthorization legislation, clearing the way for along-sought bipartisan update of the program. 

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funnels $1.1 billion in grants to states to assist with programs in K-12 and higher education. It was last reauthorized in 2006. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” in 2017. The Senate passed an amended version of that bill last night; the House may vote on the amended Senate version on or before Thursday. There is no word yet on whether the House will attempt to amend the Senate version of the House bill.

Senate leaders last night hailed last night’s vote as a bipartisan victory. “The reauthorization passed by the Senate today makes important updates to current law, including limiting the role of the Department of Education so states don’t have to ask ‘Mother May I?,’ when they want to make changes to do what is best for their students and increases expectations that states will hold themselves accountable for student achievement,” Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said. 

Democrat Senator Patty Murray, (D-WA), said “I’m glad we were able push partisanship aside and work together to invest in students and workers by giving them the education, skills and training they need to get better jobs and higher wages—and I’m pleased we able to include accountability measures to help improve programs and ensure students and workers aren’t falling through the cracks. I urge the White House to sign this bill into law as soon as possible to ensure students, workers, and businesses can succeed in our changing economy.”

According to the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and other advocates, S. 3217’s provisions that require continuous improvement at the state and local levels “do not incorporate alternatives for changes that could impact performance. For example, changes in program offerings, student populations served, state and local economic conditions, or changes to address data quality issues could impact performance” and lead to future funding reductions. The organizations continue to monitor the legislation’s progress; NSBA and KASB will share the amended bill text when it becomes available.


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