Yesterday Kim Green, Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), participated in a Congressional briefing on the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins). Hosted by the bipartisan Congressional Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, the briefing provided information on Perkins and CTE more generally. Policymakers, their staff, and other relevant stakeholders attended the standing room only event which consisted of a panel discussion on these topics. Johan Uvin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education and Eric Gearhart, Director of Research and Foundation Relations at SkillsUSA, also participated in the briefing.
The panel was spurred by the House Education and Workforce Committee’s ongoing consideration of the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. Deputy Assistant Secretary Uvin began the discussion by framing his remarks around a recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) which found that adults in the United States are lagging behind their peers internationally for literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. Uvin argued that CTE is one of the best ways to address this problem. He contended that improving the delivery system and ensuring consistent quality of CTE programs throughout the United States was an important task that the reauthorization process for Perkins must address.
Eric Gearheart organized his remarks through the perspective of the students SkillsUSA, along with other Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), serve on a daily basis. He pointed out that CTE is a great strategy for student engagement and “is essential to enfranchising students throughout the country.” Gearheart emphasized the mutually beneficial relationship between businesses and CTE programs and argued for tax incentives for the private sector to help encourage these connections.
Green organized her presentation around NASDCTEc’s vision paper Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education which helped to contextualize Gearheart and Uvin’s earlier observations. Green spoke about the history surrounding the Perkins Act, areas in current law that are being considered for improvement, and other insights into the reauthorization process. She also highlighted NASDCTEc’s recent national report on individual state CTE standards. Green linked the report’s findings to the overall discussion on how to leverage federal investments from the Perkins Act to continue to promote innovation and improve the quality of CTE programs throughout the country.
A question and answer session followed the panel’s presentations where members of the audience posed a series of questions to the panelists. Among the many questions asked, the status of Perkins reauthorization was a recurrent theme throughout. Panelists shared updates on their work to help renew the law, but ultimately agreed that only a concerted bipartisan effort from both chambers in Congress would result in a new iteration of the Carl D. Perkins Act. The House Education and Workforce Committee seems to have earnestly considered this message— following the briefing the committee scheduled a hearing on the Perkins Act for next Tuesday, November 19th.
Please check our blog for more details as this process unfolds.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate