Career & Technical Education

Senate Bill Proposes Shot in Arm for CTE

Career and technical education (CTE) could get a boost if bi-partisan legislation moves ahead. Recently, United States Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill that would expand dual and concurrent enrollment in multiple directions. The Workforce Advance Act would allow states to invest dollars in increasing the number of courses offered and encourage school districts to bolster their CTE programs by incorporating college credit opportunities.

The move came at the same time the House Education & the Workforce Committee voted to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which forms the baseline funding for CTE in this country.

The proposed bill would encourage states to consider expanding access to CTE dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high school courses. These types of programs allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. The legislation would enable states to invest leadership dollars in expanding access and supporting teachers and districts to increase the number of courses offered.

The bill would let schools use a portion of the funding they receive through Perkins for tuition and fees for CTE college courses. It would also allow school districts to use funding to support teachers seeking credentials needed to teach those courses in their high schools. Finally, the bill would push the U.S. Department of Education to use national CTE activities to help identify best practices and approaches for providing dual or concurrent enrollment programs and early college high school CTE opportunities.

In a prepared statement, Bennet alluded to the "tens of thousands" of Colorado students who are already taking advantage of similar programs, "which has helped more of them enroll and do well in college." If passed, he said, the new legislation would allow "even more students to benefit."

Utah, as well, has created a "fast, affordable route for students to gain the skills and earn the credentials they need to compete in today's global economy," added Hatch. There students have earned more than 180,000 college-level credit hours, he said. "With each class students took, they were one step closer to finding a job or earning a college degree."

The proposed legislation awaits attention from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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