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Career and Technical Education to Receive a 21st-Century Update 

Today’s Potential Authorization of the Perkins Act to Give CTE a 21st-Century Update

The House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, an update to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and consequentially an update to Career and Technical Education in general.

Advocates of the legislation say it’s a crucial step towards ensuring that students who pursue CTE are receiving access to quality programs. Many argue that because pursuit of CTE is unfairly labeled as a second-tier choice compared to the pursuit of a four-year degree, millions of U.S. students are being denied access to quality CTE options.

"Unfortunately, there is often an unnecessary prejudice attached to career and technical education. It’s frequently referred to as the 'other' track, with the incorrect implication that it’s the path individuals take if they won’t be able to handle the rigors of a four-year college,” says Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) in a post for The Hill. 

"In reality, students who pursue CTE complete a diverse curriculum where they learn important life skills such as problem-solving, research, time management and critical thinking. They are more engaged, perform better and graduate at higher rates than their university-bound counterparts. We should be celebrating those achievements and studying how we can translate them across the board,” she says.

Foxx’s statement is supported by recent studies. In April, a report commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute studied student data from Arkansas and found that students who are exposed to career and technical education are more likely to both graduate, pursue higher education and be employed.

Arkansas is considered to be a forward-thinking state when it comes to CTE; new requirements have led to 89 percent of the state’s high school students being enrolled in at least one CTE course. 

According to the Seventy-Four, the education community is almost unanimously behind the new CTE legislation that is expected to pass today.

"It has the support of career and technical ed advocates, the country’s largest teachers union, superintendents, school boards, and scores of business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce,” the Seventy-Four said.

In other words, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is expected to pass with no problem, meaning CTE is expected to get a 21st-century update that many say has been a long time coming.

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Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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