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Perkins Reauthorization Heats up in House Hearing

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November 20, 2013

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Perkins Reauthorization Heats up in House Hearing

Yesterday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held its second hearing on reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. While the first hearing back in September offered a general overview of how current law is working for states and local school districts, yesterdays hearing focused on more specific areas of reform.

Testifying before the committee were:

  • Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Mr. Stanley Litow, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, IBM
  • Dr. Blake Flanders, Vice President of Workforce Development, Kansas Board of Regents
  • Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President and CEO, Gateway Technical College

Throughout the hearing, members of the Committee were especially interested in aspects of the U.S. Department of Educations blueprint for reauthorizing the Perkins Act, including the impact of competitive funding on low-income and rural district accessibility of Perkins funds. Rep. Robert Bobby Scott (D-VA) raised concerns that turning Perkins funding from a formula distribution to a competition would cause schools and districts with promising programs to lose their funding and students in those programs to lose access to high-quality CTE.

Business and industry involvement in CTE programs and industry-recognized credentials were also a major point of focus during the hearing.  Dr. Albrecht, a former ACTE president, testified about the business partnerships that Gateway Technical College has fostered under the current law and how those partnerships have allowed programs to rapidly respond to the needs of employers and have helped students earn relevant, industry-recognized credentials.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, expressed his disappointment with the Obama Administrations announcement of the new $100 million competitive Youth Connect grant program. He took issue with the Administrations failure to consult with Congress before going forward with the program and argued that another competitive program would further muddle the CTE system and the committees reauthorization efforts.

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier was pressed by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) about the delay in the release of the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education, which the department was supposed to submit to Congress in 2011. Rep. Foxx argued that without the results of the assessment, the department lacked objective evidence to support the policy proposals put forward in the blueprint. Dann-Messier asserted that the initial data and information from the assessment was used to inform the departments recommendations and she indicated that the final report will be available in the spring of 2014.

Citing several CTE school visits hes been on where programs have strong partnerships with business and industry and are preparing students for careers in in-demand fields, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) urged his fellow Committee members to visit local CTE schools in their home districts.

ACTE has organized a school visit this Friday, November 22, to Arlington Career Center in Arlington, VA for congressional staff to see a real CTE program in action. This is also a great time for all ACTE members to contact their Senators and Representative to arrange a school visit during the upcoming congressional recesses.

An archive of the hearing video is available here.

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