Legislative Update: House Holds Perkins Hearing, Passes CR

House Holds First Perkins Hearing

Last Friday the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education began the reauthorization process for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) by holding a hearing titled “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs: A Discussion on Career and Technical Education and Training Programs.”Capitol

View the archived hearing here.

John Fischer, Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of Education and NASDCTEc’s current President, was among the witnesses asked to testify. His written testimony can be found here. Fischer spoke about the importance and impact of CTE programs on communities across the country from a unique perspective—as both a national representative for State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors and NASDCTEc, and also as a state representative of Vermont. NASDCTEc’s CTE vision and underlying principles organized the majority of Fischer’s oral and written testimony. Other witnesses at the hearing were:

  • Mr. Alvin Bargas, President of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Pelican Chapter of Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Testimony)
  • Dr. Sheila Harrity, Principal of Worcester Technical High School in Worcester, Massachusetts and 2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year (Testimony)
  • Mr. Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster a regionally accredited career-focused online and hybrid postsecondary education institution (Testimony)

The hearing touched on many overarching issues surrounding CTE and the role Perkins has as a catalyst for improving and innovating the CTE system across the nation. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), co-chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, summed up these issues saying, “The big picture we’re talking about today is competitiveness and having a qualified and trained workforce . . . CTE is not a field of dreams, but a field of jobs.”  Rep. Thompson went on to note that CTE programs are the driving force for ensuring the United States remains a leader in global competitiveness.

Over the course of the hearing, Fischer used NASDCTEc’s vision statement, Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education, to organize his testimony. He spoke about the need for common data collection standards, definitions, and incentives; clear expectations for high quality CTE programs; and a more active role for states. He also emphasized strengthening collaboration between secondary CTE, postsecondary CTE, and businesses through consortia and private-sector engagement. Fischer highlighted Vermont’s use of its reserve fund as an innovation fund and explained how that model could be applied nationally.

Frank Britt of Penn Foster spoke of the advantages to online, hybrid, and blended learning programs. Through these programs, students have the opportunity to take additional classes, earning credits for courses that are not offered at their home school, and to provide paced instruction tailored to the individual needs of a student. The other witnesses, Sheila Harrity and Alvin Bargas, emphasized the important role of business and industry in the CTE system and the need to better link CTE programs to current and future labor market needs.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Rokita laid out the subcommittee’s plans going forward saying, “In the coming weeks, this committee will discuss a range of proposals to improve the Perkins Act. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft smart policies that will help put more Americans on the path to a prosperous future.”

NASDCTEc has met with the Democrat and Republican Committee staff as they begin their deliberations on Perkins and will continue to do so as the process unfolds. Now is the time to engage with your Congressional representatives and their staff! Tell them how CTE is working in your state or district. Learn more about NASDCTEc’s recommendations for Perkins reauthorization here.

House Passes Short-Term Continuing Resolution

Under current law, the federal government is funded only through September 30th with a new fiscal year beginning on October 1st. If Congress fails to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to temporarily fund the federal government, it will cease all non-essential functions until an appropriations bill is signed into law. A shutdown would be felt almost immediately and affect many core functions of the federal government.

Last Friday, the House narrowly passed a short-term CR that would fund the government until December 15, 2013, and maintain current sequester spending levels. However, the stopgap funding resolution or House Joint Resolution 59 (H.J. Res 59), also includes a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare law. The Senate is now poised to take up this spending bill and will most likely strip this provision out and send a “clean” version, without the defund provision,  back to the House for consideration.

After that it is not entirely clear how the process will unfold. The House will either need to pass the bill as is, or mark it up and send it back to the Senate for approval. Both President Obama and Senate Democrats have said that they will not approve a bill that includes the so-called ‘defund Obamacare’ provision. Because of this, both the House and the Senate are at an impasse and compromise will be needed to keep the government functioning after the end of the month.

We will continue to update members through our blog as more information becomes available.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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