Congressional work to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) continued today when the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education hosted its first hearing on the topic in several years. This hearing provided an opportunity for Members of Congress to learn more about Perkins and solicit expert commentary on strategies for building a stronger Perkins Act in its next iteration.
Dr. Doug Major, the superintendent and CEO of Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and former President of ACTE was invited to provide testimony to the committee, as well as several other CTE experts from across the country (additional information about the panelists was reported on the CTE Policy Watch Blog here). Early in her testimony Dr. Deneece Huftalin of Salt Lake Community College demonstrated the critical role of Perkins in providing career opportunities for students nationwide, noting that in the depths of the economic recession, “Perkins funding was crucial to [SLCC’s] ability to maintain and grow key CTE programs for our students at a time when our enrollment was rapidly increasing.”
The hearing’s testimony also included a strong emphasis on the need for meaningful engagement among the business community in designing effective CTE programs and helping students to explore careers available in their community. Dr. Major noted the critical role that career explorations can have in students’ planning for their future, and expressed to the committee the need for additional flexibility in the next Perkins Act for schools to provide these opportunities to students earlier in their educational career.
Tim Johnson, the senior director of governmental relations with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), went on to explain CTE’s value in teaching both technical and academic skills. “A good pipe fitter will do no less mathematical equations in their day than an engineer,” Johnson noted. However, he cautioned, there is still much work to be done to shift outdated public perceptions and educate students and parents about today’s CTE classroom.
ACTE staff attended the hearing and is working closely with congressional staff both in the House and Senate to advocate for policy changes that will strengthen Perkins through the reauthorization process. To watch the archived webcast of the hearing, click here, and click here to learn more about ACTE’s priorities for the next Perkins Act. Photos of the hearing are also available here.