WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience by making courses more relevant to students’ 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. Recently, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation (SB 336/HB 895) championed by Governor Terry McAuliffe that will change graduation requirements to focus more heavily on career readiness and work-based learning opportunities.
“To grow the most talented workforce in the world, we need to equip students with the skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” said Kaine. “A high school education should prepare students for any pathway they choose, whether that’s attending a four-year university, earning credentials from a community college program or getting a high-skilled job after graduation. Our bill would provide federal funding to support schools as they redesign curriculum to incorporate impressive CTE programs like the ones I’ve visited at schools across Virginia.”
“Far too many young people don’t have an opportunity to gain the skills and experience get a good paying job,” Portman stated. “The CTE Excellence and Equity Act would help give more high school students the opportunity to participate in high quality CTE programs that provide college credit, workplace skills, and opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs.”
“The only way we can meet workforce readiness challenges effectively, is if we have strong public-private partnerships that are supported by a Congress working across party lines,” said Baldwin. “There is a growing belief among both parties that Career and Technical Education is one of the most effective vehicles for responding to labor market changes and the workforce readiness needs of business and industry. This bipartisan legislation will help us do a better job of supporting CTE students so that they are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”
“By promoting career and technical training in high school, we can better prepare our students for the workforce of today and the future,” said Capito. “As West Virginia continues to grapple with high unemployment, it is critical that we do everything possible to prepare our workers for the jobs of the 21st century and create an environment in West Virginia where businesses want to invest. The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is a positive step in the right direction.”
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, which is expected to be considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this year.
“There is a mismatch between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “This bipartisan legislation casts a wide net, bringing in employers, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates to make the high school experience more engaging for students and more relevant to today’s job market.”
The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is supported by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National Skills Coalition, the Society of Women Engineers and the Opportunity America Jobs and Career Coalition.