The Senate on Monday unanimously passed an update to the Perkins Career and Technical Education Law.
The House passed its own version of the bill more than a year ago, but negotiations in the Senate had been in a stalemate for months. Business groups and the White House had recently made updating the work-force training bill a priority, though — presidential adviser Ivanka Trump visited Capitol Hill last month to press senators on the legislation.
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate education committee reached a bipartisan deal to move the bill forward late last month. The agreement will allow states to set benchmarks for career and technical education using grants from the $1.2 billion program, a departure from existing law.
“The reauthorization passed by the Senate today makes important updates to current law, including limiting the role of the Department of Education so states don’t have to ask, ‘Mother, may I?’ when they want to make changes to do what is best for their students and increases expectations that states will hold themselves accountable for student achievement,” said Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the education committee.
The Association for Career and Technical Education and Advance CTE, which advocates for quality work-force training, said in a joint statement that the bill falls short of their legislative priorities and includes some troubling provisions.
“Should the Senate-passed bill be adopted by the House and signed by the president, we look forward to working with the committees in both chambers to clarify the legislative language to ensure that there are no unintended consequences that result in setting unambitious performance targets, lower academic standards for CTE students, or force states and programs to meet onerous administrative requirements instead of focusing on providing high-quality CTE programs,” the groups said.