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Legislative Update: State of the Union; Plan For A Strong Middle Class & Strong America

State of the Union

Last week, President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech which included many promising aspects for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community and can be viewed here. The President spoke of the importance of ensuring that a high school diploma puts America’s young people on a path to a good job and spoke glowingly of the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in New York which does just that. P-TECH works in partnership with New York Public Schools, the City University of New York and IBM to ensure their students graduate with both a high school diploma and an associates degree in computing or engineering. The President also spoke of equipping high school graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy by rewarding schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on the skills employers are looking for to fill jobs now and in the future.

And in a night which saw bipartisan support for the benefits of CTE, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also focused on issues important to NASDCTEc. In his role speaking for the Republicans to respond to President Obama, Senator Rubio spoke of incentivizing school districts to offer more vocational and career training and building an education system that gives people the skills today’s jobs entail and the knowledge that tomorrow’s world will require.

With each party focusing on the importance of CTE and the role it will play in our future, there are positive signs that this renewed focus will result in a welcome prioritization for CTE issues, which can only be a good thing with reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career Technical Education Act not far away.  We are hopeful that the priorities laid out in the State of the Union will be reflected in the President’s budget proposal, due out next month, as well as Congressional support for Perkins reauthorization. NASDCTEc will be carefully monitoring the flurry of Congressional and Administration proposals likely to come from tonight’s speeches.

Plan For A Strong Middle Class & Strong America

Following on from his State of the Union address, President Obama released his blueprint to drive America’s economic growth. Key to the proposals is the acknowledgement that education and job training strengthen the middle class and prepare young people to compete in the global economy. This was reflected in the proposal to modernize America’s high schools for real-world learning. A new competition was launched which aims to reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and provide learning in skills that today’s employers are demanding to fill jobs.

Also of note is the President’s proposal to strengthen and reform federal investment in CTE to better align programs with the needs of employers and with the demands of higher education. Again, more details are required in order to determine how this will affect funding and policy in CTE, but this will become clearer when the President’s budget is released next month. The report is available online and can be found here.

 

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

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