House Education and Workforce Committee approves Perkins reauthorization

By Katie Spiker, May 17, 2017

On May 17th, the House Education and Workforce Committee marked up  and unanimously voted to advance the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and was introduced on May 4th by Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

In her introduction to the markup, Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) emphasized the importance of career and technical education in helping students build the skills businesses need. Ranking Member Scott (D-VA), in his introduction, also emphasized the importance of reauthorization further aligning career and technical education with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The bill passed by Committee was largely unchanged from the bill introduced last week. Though, Rep. Lewis (R-MN) introduced an amendment, passed by voice vote, to expand dual enrollment opportunities for students enrolled in CTE courses.

Rep. Wilson (D-FL) introduced, and later withdrew, an amendment to include ex-offenders in the list of special populations measured under the bill. Reps. Bonamici (D-OR) and Polis (D-CO) introduced an amendment to maintain an enforcement mechanism, in the current law, allowing the Department of Education to withhold funds from states who have not met program improvement goals for outcomes for special populations. The Representatives withdrew their amendment after discussion.

The bill is very similar to the reauthorization passed by the House with overwhelming bipartisan support last Congress. It is consistent with NSC’s reauthorization priorities and includes provisions that would make it easier for states and CTE providers to coordinate with activities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including closer alignment of postsecondary performance indicators with the core performance indicators under WIOA, and requirements that state Perkins plans describe how CTE programs fit within the state’s broader vision and strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce. The bill would also adopt several key WIOA definitions, including recognized postsecondary credentials, industry or sector partnerships, and career pathways.

After being advanced by the House, the Senate was not able to move the bill forward last Congress, in part due to disagreements over the Secretary of Education’s oversight role echoed in Reps. Bonamici and Polis’ withdrawn amendment.

NSC has joined with the Perkins CTE Coalition, a broad range of nearly 300 stakeholders, to support the legislation. We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate to advance a reauthorization that meets the needs of workers and businesses and will continue to monitor the bill’s progress.