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Legislative Update - July 2018
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The National Council for Workforce Education


July 2018

On June 26, 2018, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on reauthorizing the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The reauthorization bill, which was given the same name as its House equivalent, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act, was written and negotiated primarily by Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). It was passed out of committee unanimously and will now go to the full Senate.

The House of Representatives passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act in 2016 and 2017, but the Senate did not pass reauthorizing legislation during that time. The House is expected to take up the legislation again once the Senate has acted.

There are some differences between the bill that the Senate is considering and what the House passed last year, as well as between the Senate bill and current legislation. (The last reauthorization of the Perkins Act was in 2006. The next reauthorization should have occurred in 2012, but that did not occur. Instead, Congress has voted to extend the current legislation each year.)

Key provisions of the Senate bill include:

  • Accountability, including:
    • Quicker timeframe before states could face penalties for not meeting targets (two years rather than the current three)
    • Emphasis on data collection, including disaggregated data and some new data measures
    • Emphasis on continuous improvement – although some organizations prefer the House bill’s language in this area
  • Better alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) definitions and planning timeline – although some organizations prefer the House bill’s language in this area
  • Changes in state and federal roles:
    • States would have less discretion on how to spend state leadership funds
    • The Education Department must approve plans that meet the law and reject plans that do not – no negotiation process as in current law
  • Increased emphasis on work-based learning opportunities
  • Increased emphasis on professional development for instructors – some of which is meant to align with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) and may be less applicable to postsecondary

Some of our partner organizations have weighed in on this legislation. Click on a link to read the organization’s analysis.

Many thanks to these organizations for their continued work on Perkins and other workforce issues!

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