Bipartisan House Passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act

by Melanie Anderson   •  

Today, we saw rare bipartisan cooperation with the unanimous House passage of the
Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act, a bill to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. We are especially pleased that recommendations from the ‘Our Opportunity Nation’ plan and others long championed by Opportunity Nation to help more young people find success are reflected in the legislation.

Over the last several months, we have held a number of events in our Restoring the American Dream series highlighting the goals we need to reach as a country to truly expand opportunity to all Americans regardless of their race or gender, or where they were born. These events have focused on how to re-engage Opportunity Youth, increase high school graduation rates and double the number of postsecondary degrees, certificates and credentials with a focus on bipartisan cooperation.

One of the ways to accomplish these goals is through high-quality career and technical education programs that provide all students with opportunities for career awareness and preparation. By providing students with the academic and technical skills they need to succeed in postsecondary education, training and employment, they can move forward in a purposeful way.

While the Perkins Act has been waiting for an overhaul, millions of teens and young adults have struggled in school, dropped out or failed to transition to meaningful education and career pathways.

Opportunity Nation believes that an updated and reauthorized CTE will help ensure there are better opportunities for college and career advancement for all students in every zip code and we urge the Senate to follow the House to reauthorize CTE as soon as possible. We thank Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) for their leadership and understanding the important role CTE plays in ensuring a skilled workforce. We encourage the Opportunity Nation Coalition to elevate this message on social media with this suggested tweet: Great #bipartisan co-op in the House. Kudos @virginiafoxx @bobbyscott @CongressmanGT @congressmanraja for your work on #CTE #OurOppNation

Elements of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act bill that support the ‘Our Opportunity Nation’ plan to help more young people find success:

  • Authorizes the US Department of Education to award innovation grants to support strategies and activities to improve CTE and align workforce skills with labor-market needs.
  • Supports pay-for-success initiatives.
  • An expansion of the “programs of study” definition to ensure that programs include employability skills, are aligned with the needs of local industries, progress from general to more specific content and have multiple entrance and exit points that incorporate credentialing.
  • Strengthens alignment between Perkins and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including requiring measures for employment, median earnings and attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials.
  • Requires input from business and industry (including industry or sector partnerships, where appropriate), and requires greater alignment with the state vision and strategy identified under WIOA, including descriptions of career pathways to be developed at the state and local levels.
  • State establishment of performance indicators related to attainment of postsecondary credentials or credits.
  • An expansion of dual- or concurrent enrollment programming, including the addition of a formal definition; the authorization of State Leadership Activities to provide support for dual- or concurrent enrollment programs; and State establishment of performance indicators related to attainment of postsecondary credentials through dual- or concurrent enrollment programs.
  • Ensures that an “out-of-school youth” can be included as part of career guidance and counseling activities.
  • Continues to focus support on areas of need, including an expansion of the definition of “special populations” to include homeless individuals.
  • Encourages work-based learning activities under the innovation grant program.
  • Authorizes work-based learning as part of State Leadership Activities.
Melanie Anderson Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government and External Affairs at Opportunity Nation. She directs the campaign’s government relations and policy efforts. Read Melanie's bio.

« Back to Blog

Stay Informed