Another try to reauthorize Perkins

Photo: Indian River State College (Florida)

Two members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize programs under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, introduced by Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pennsylvania) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois), would build on last year’s effort to reauthorize the Perkins Act, H.R. 5587, which overwhelming passed the House last fall but was not considered in the Senate.

The Perkins Act, enacted in 1984 and last reauthorized in 2006, provides federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs, which help students acquire the knowledge and skills for jobs in a broad range of fields, from health care to technology. However, supporters of reauthorization note that because federal law has not been updated in more than a decade, it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers.

“Current policies restrict the ability of state leaders to invest federal resources in efforts that prioritize economic growth and local needs,” according to a fact sheet from the House committee. “This occurs at a time when critical industries have vacant jobs but not enough qualified workers to fill them.”

Reauthorizing Perkins is among the legislative priorities for the American Association of Community Colleges.

In a nutshell

According to a House committee summary, the bill to revamp Perkins would:

  • Simplify the application process for funding and provide more flexibility to use federal resources in response to education and economic needs. It also would increase from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds states can set aside to serve eligible students in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students.
  • Improve alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, build better community partnerships and encourage stronger ties with employers.
  • Increase transparency and accountability by streamlining performance measures and aligning them with performance measures in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The bill also would replace what the summary calls “the unreliable ‘technical skill proficiency’ indicator” with a state-determined indicator.
  • Ensure a limited federal role by “reining in” the education secretary’s authority and limiting federal intervention. “It empowers state leaders to develop an improvement plan that works best for the needs and circumstances in their states,” the summary said. “At the local level, improvement plans will be developed in consultation with local stakeholders and overseen by state leaders, not federal bureaucrats.”

AACC advocates in action: Join community college leaders in Washington, D.C., June 12-13 to advocate for the federal community college agenda. Register today.

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