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Why Congress Should Work to Improve CTE Programs This Summer

Why Congress Should Work to Improve CTE Programs This Summer

According to Jonathan Hasak, policy analyst and contributor for The Hill, one of the most important responsibilities Congress has this summer is working to strengthen Career and Technical Education (CTE) by reauthorizing the Perkins Career and Technical Act.

CTE is often thought of as a missed opportunity to provide America’s youth with a pathway to success. According to Hasak, CTE programs play an important role in attracting Opportunity Youth, or "young people neither in school nor employed – and preparing them for gainful employment and lifelong learning.”

Hasak says that strengthening CTE programs begins with reauthorizing and reforming the Perkins Act in a way that improves the quality of CTE programs as well as works to chip away at the stigma that such programs are second rate.

The Perkins Act was signed into law in 2006, and while Hasak credits it for heading in the right direction, offers five specific ways Congress can make the act stronger.

A lot of what Hasak discusses has to do with assigning funds. Hasak believes the federal government should make what California does for CTE programs a national standard; California has California’s Career Pathways Trust,a creation that helps provide funding to "grade nine through fourteen career pathway programs that enhance local career pathways that connects schools with business entities; develops career-relevant pathways aligned to high growth sectors; and provides pathways to postsecondary education aligned with regional economies.”

Other recommendations include the development of a national private sector led campaign and the empowering of intermediary organizations to support CTE programs on a national level.

Luckily, strengthening CTE in the U.S. is a largely bipartisan effort that has found support far and wide. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance requiring that all students regardless of sex or gender are provided equal opportunities to CTE programs.

The guidance aims to not only provide all students with equal opportunity to success, but to also support diversity in the workforce. The guidance discussed, for example, how the educator workforce is comprised disproportionately of women.

“…fewer men and boys are enrolled in CTE programs that include training for jobs in nursing and education. This has led to fewer male teachers, with men making up less than three percent of early childhood education teachers,” the guidance said.

The U.S. Department of Education, like many other groups and individuals, believes in CTE as an important pathway to providing success for our nation’s youth, which is why Hasak concludes:

Congress "should use their remaining days in session to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.”

Read the full post.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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