ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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On April 4, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to examine federal support for job training programs. The 13-member committee heard testimony from Zoë Baird, CEO and president of the Markle Foundation; Douglas Besharov, professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy; and Demetra Smith Nightingale, fellow at the Urban Institute. The chair of the subcommittee is Representative Tom Cole (R-OK-4), who is also a member of the House CTE Caucus.
The hearing touched on a number of issues, including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), apprenticeships, CTE and how federal support for job training programs plays an important role in American economic competitiveness. The committee members’ focus seemed to center on the skilled trades and the more traditional definition of “vocational education.” However, there were still insightful comments that shed light into today’s CTE. For example, in response to a question from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) regarding “VocEd,” Ms. Nightingale discussed career academies and programs in fields like manufacturing, finance and health care. In addition, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI-2) asked a question that highlighted the importance of apprenticeships.
Another interesting moment came when Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR-3) asked about the ideal time for secondary students to pursue a specific pathway, sharing that he believed it to be in the eighth grade when students should choose between pursuing college or a “career and technical path.” While ACTE agrees with Rep. Womack that students should explore careers at an early age, CTE does not have to be a binary choice. While not responding directly to the question, Ms. Baird did underscore the importance of CTE and education that prepares students for career success.
Another member of the subcommittee, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), was the lead Democratic co-sponsor of last year’s Perkins reauthorization bill. Rep. Clark asked an interesting question on the role of the secretary of education in Perkins, alluding to the secretarial authority issue responsible for stalling Perkins reauthorization in the Senate last year.
Lastly, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) used a personal story to illustrate her belief in the “importance of learning a skill… in high school regardless of what path you go into…” She also spoke about technology jobs in her district and how many of those jobs do not require a four-year degree. In fact, national data show that half of all STEM jobs will be open to those with two-year degrees.
The hearing provided a good opportunity to shed light on the need for job training programs, including high-quality CTE, to help meet America’s workforce demands. Parts of the hearing also showed that advocates still have work to do to ensure Congress fully appreciates the diverse opportunities for students in today’s CTE ecosystem. To help spread the word about CTE, make sure your Members of Congress are members of the CTE Caucus. You can ask your senators to join here and representative here.
Posted by Jarrod Nagurka on 04/07/2017 at 12:10 PM in Advocacy Resources, CTE Caucus, Federal Funding, In the News, WIOA | Permalink
Clark, Cole, CTE, job training, Lee, Lowey, Pocan, Womack
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