Congress Must Act on Bill to Aid Career and Technical Education

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To the Editor:

The fiscal 2015 spending bill for the federal departments of Labor; Health and Human Services; Education; and related agencies would provide vital funding for innumerable federal programs, but it is facing an uncertain political future as the beginning of a new federal fiscal year approaches.

I and my colleagues in the education community applauded Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees K-12 appropriations, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the panel's ranking Republican, for producing a bill reflecting our country's need for increased funding and support for critical programs in workforce development and career and technical education, or CTE. That's why I called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to move forward on this vital piece of legislation without delay, and for Congress to pass a bill.

Unfortunately, however, deliberations on the measure came to a standstill over the summer.

With Congress poised to take up a continuing resolution for stopgap funding in the coming weeks, it is important that the leadership of the House and the Senate find a way to work toward a bipartisan agreement on a long-term fiscal 2015 funding measure that builds upon the investment in CTE included in the Senate subcommittee bill.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act provides the principal source of federal funding for CTE nationwide. While American workers are still struggling to find employment in the wake of the economic recession, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 4.7 million jobs currently available, many of which are in CTE fields. These positions offer meaningful, highly paid career opportunities in emerging professions, including health care, advanced manufacturing, and engineering.

The federal investment in these programs comes at a time when the business community is struggling to locate qualified job candidates. High-quality, rigorous CTE programs are the answer to growing skills gaps; we need to make a strong federal investment in CTE a priority.

America's CTE students should not fall victim to stagnant funding or program cuts due to congressional inaction or unrelated policy debates.

Stephen DeWitt
Deputy Executive Director
Association for Career and Technical Education
Alexandria, Va.

Vol. 34, Issue 03, Page 24

Published in Print: September 10, 2014, as Congress Must Act on Bill to Aid Career and Technical Education
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