Thursday, July 7, 2016

Today, the House Education Committee unanimously approved H.R. 5587, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, by a vote of 37-0. The bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Since 1984, this law has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs that offer students opportunities to gain knowledge, skills, and experience to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields.

It’s been a decade since Congress passed the last authorization in July 2006. This new authorization attempts to better align CTE programs with the current job market by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building stronger community partnerships, and encouraging more engagement with employers.

Notably, in two sections—under state leadership activities and within local uses of funds—the bill now includes new, explicit support for integrating arts and design skills training into CTE programs, permitting states and school districts to support CTE programs that integrate arts and design skills. This amendment, offered by Congressional STEAM Caucus co-chairs Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), was approved unanimously on a voice vote.

In offering the amendment, Rep. Stefanik stated, “One issue that I hear from businesses in my district is they have a desire to find more employees who are not only technically proficient, but also possess the creative and design skills found in the arts.”

In supporting the amendment, Rep. Bonamici said, “America’s economic success has also been built on our propensity for innovation, inventiveness, and entrepreneurship. Education programs that integrate arts and design elements nurture future workers to think in new ways.”

The legislation could now come to the full House for a vote. The Senate has also indicated strong interest in taking up reauthorization legislation this year. Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) shared with the National School Boards Association last month, “Perkins is next up of our education bills.”