Recently, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), founding member of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, led U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Todd Young (R-IN) in introducing the CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience to include courses more relevant to the 21st century workforce to better prepare students for future careers. The bill would provide federal funding for partnerships between school districts, employers, and institutions of higher education in Virginia and other states that integrate high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs into high schools. These partnerships help students earn industry recognized credentials or credit toward a postsecondary degree or certificate and an understanding of the relevance of coursework in the context of a future career. According to the nonpartisan organization Achieve, nearly 80 percent of college instructors and 60 percent of employers indicate that public high schools fall short in preparing students for postsecondary education.
“At schools across Virginia, I’ve seen innovative approaches to deliver high-quality CTE programs to students. This bill would support schools as they redesign coursework to create engaging CTE partnerships between industry and higher education,” said Kaine. “Preparing our students for the careers of tomorrow gives them a better shot at getting hired for good-paying jobs and having the skills needed to excel in them.”
“My top priority in the United States Senate has been to promote policies that help create and foster an environment that leads to job creation and economic growth,” Portman stated. “Career and Technical Education gives students the opportunity to gain skills and experience to become college and career ready. The CTE Excellence and Equity Act will benefit millions of high school students across the country by expanding access to high quality CTE programs which lead to college credit, workplace skills, and opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs.”
“In Wisconsin, I’ve seen how strong public-private partnerships can meet our workforce readiness challenges effectively and Congress should work across party lines to strengthen these programs,” said Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will help us do a better job of supporting career and technical education students so that they are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”
“As West Virginia undergoes an economic transition and grapples with high unemployment, it is critical that we take steps to equip our workforce with the right skills for today’s jobs. I’m pleased to join with my colleagues to introduce the CTE Excellence and Equity Act, which supports necessary partnerships between higher education and employers and will improve career and technical training in our high schools,” said Capito.
“Strong CTE programs are a critical part of equipping students with the skills they need today to be able to compete in tomorrow’s workforce,” Young said. “This legislation is a positive step forward in closing the skills gap by supporting high-quality CTE programs that are aligned with the needs of our local communities.”
The CTE Excellence and Equity Act would provide federal funding through a competitive grant program to support innovative approaches to redesigning the high school experience for students as schools develop curriculum, assess student performance and teach workplace skills through job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships. The bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.
“The CTE Excellence and Equity Act provides data and research to address funding support for the much-needed redesign of more equitable CTE high school experiences that will help prepare more students to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said Richmond Public Schools Career and Technical Education Instructional Specialist Jorge Valenzuela. “In order for our students to truly be successful throughout life after high school, CTE must be integrated into the instructional models of school divisions throughout our entire country.”
“Senator Kaine has been a fighter and advocate for the equality and equity of public education his entire career,”said Norfolk Federation of Teachers Thomas Calhoun. “It’s no surprise that he is one of the recognized leaders for quality CTE schools in the country!”
“This bipartisan legislation works to address the growing gap between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers by connecting business, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates,” said Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former Governor of West Virginia. “It also provides students with an opportunity to learn by doing, making the high school experience more engaging and more relevant to today’s job market while setting students up for individual success—a key component to the nation’s economic growth.”
-Submitted by Sarah Peck