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Kaine Praises Major Senate Breakthrough On Updating Career And Technical Education Legislation

Perkins CTE reauthorization includes major provisions from three of Kaine’s bills to increase access to CTE programs 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and a co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, praised the HELP Committee’s unanimous passage of a bipartisan update of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act. For years, Kaine has called for an update to the legislation, which was last reauthorized in 2006 and aims to increase access to and the quality of career and technical education programs. The legislation includes priorities from three of Kaine’s bills: the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act to raise the quality of CTE programs; the Middle School Technical Education Program (Middle STEP) Act, which would expose middle school students to CTE programs focused on career exploration; and 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 all students for future careers.

“We have waited years to address our policies’ shortfalls in preparing students for good, in-demand jobs,” Kaine said. “We need to invest in education training programs so we have more skilled workers in this country. I hear it from manufacturers and business owners across Virginia. Career and technical education programs are proven solutions for creating jobs, retraining workers, and ensuring students from all ages and walks of life are prepared with the skills they need for a successful career. That starts with exposing students to more career possibilities at a younger age and making sure we have the teachers to train them. This is a great step toward closing the skills gap and ensuring all our students are ready to compete in a global economy. I’m extremely thankful to all of my colleagues for supporting legislation I’ve introduced, and I hope Majority Leader McConnell will quickly bring this bill to a vote by the full Senate.”

Kaine, who grew up working in his father’s ironworking shop, has long pushed for increased access to career and technical education programs that prepare students for future careers. As Governor, Kaine prioritized career and technical education training to ensure that Virginia was competitive in the global economy by having a skilled workforce to fill the jobs available. In 2007, he spearheaded the creation of Governor’s Career and Technical Academies in Virginia — now Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academies. In the Senate, Kaine and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined together in 2014 to form the bipartisan Senate CTE Caucus. Kaine successfully urged President Obama to expand the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to commend the efforts of students who have chosen CTE pathways and authored various CTE-related provisions that were included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan rewrite of No Child Left Behind. Kaine knows that CTE is an important pathway for success, and he has long worked to create a better understanding of the critical role CTE and workforce training programs play in growing our economy.

Below is a list of Kaine’s priorities included in the bipartisan bill:

  • Expands funding to the middle grades and promotes career exploration in middle schools.
  • Improves the recruitment and retention of highly effective CTE teachers, school leaders, and counselors as well as supports the integration of professional development opportunities between academic teachers and CTE teachers.
  • Strengthens the definition of what constitute rigorous CTE curriculum to align with local, regional, and state workforce demands.
  • Allows states to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies like the Governor’s CTE Academies in Virginia established by then-Governor Kaine.
  • Improves links between secondary schools and postsecondary education such as creating credit-transfer agreement opportunities to help students get a postsecondary-recognized credential or a credential for a job in a high-demand career field.
  • Creates a fund to support state and local innovative strategies to improve and modernize CTE and align workforce skills with labor market needs.
  • Strengthens career pathways by providing students with a range of work-based learning opportunities.
  • Encourages school districts to form partnerships with local businesses, regional industries, institutions of higher education, and other community stakeholders to make sure they are preparing students well for future employment opportunities.
  • Requires states and school districts to ensure that traditionally underserved students and special populations receive the supports they need to access and succeed in CTE programs.