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Congress Set to Begin Work on Career and Technical Education Programs

By Alyson Klein — October 21, 2015 1 min read

Get excited, all you fans of vocational and career education: Congress is about to start work on renewing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Program. That’s the biggest federal program for high schools, and it has fans on both sides of the aisle. It last got a facelift in 2006.

Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., two members of the Senate education committee, told congressional staff and folks in the career and technical education community that they are rolling up their sleeves on legislation renewing the program.

Some of the broad goals, according to advocates? Making it easier for schools to serve all kids that want to try out career and technical education (including students with disabilities), helping programs prepare students for jobs that are in-demand locally, and ensuring that the program remains formula-based. (The Obama administration had initially been interested in turning part of the program into a competition within states, which did not make Democrats or Republicans in Congress very happy. Read the administration’s blueprint from 2012 here.)

School district officials and advocates: Got an idea about what the next version of the law should look like? Email CTE@help.senate.gov. They’re asking you to submit by 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Meanwhile, the House education committee is planning to hold a hearing on career and technical education next week.

Can lawmakers really renew career and technical education programs in an election year? It’s hard to say. But compared to the issues in reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, career and tech (which is much more low profile and has a lot of supporters) may be a walk in the park.

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