On July 31, the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” passed into law, reauthorizing the major federal legislation, colloquially known as “Perkins CTE,” which supports students’ educational pathways toward high-skill, high-wage, and growth potential jobs.
As a field, we know afterschool programs frequently help students prepare for careers from their first job to their dream job. The CTE law recognizes the role of afterschool and includes important opportunities, old and new, for afterschool and summer learning partners.
Where does afterschool fit in to the updated Perkins CTE law:
Among the goals of the new law was increased coordination with the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. The 21st Century Community Learning Center Program reauthorized in ESSA included a new component under local activities on support in afterschool and summer programs for students in career readiness and competencies. So the language in the updated CTE law - which includes youth serving providers as an eligible use of funds - helps better align these two laws and facilitates more student-focused programming for students across settings and funding streams.
The law also includes new language around a national evaluation of CTE conducted by the Department of Education which will evaluate the effectiveness of different CTE delivery systems including “voluntary afterschool programs”. For the field, this is one more endorsement of the major role afterschool can play in effective CTE delivery and an additional reassurance to administrators that CTE funding can and should be spent on these types of programs.
Despite a broad base of strong bipartisan support, the CTE law update was a long time in the making. The 2006 legislation has been up for reauthorization since 2012. The House of Representatives had passed its version of the updated law in 2016, but the 114th Congress ended without action. Then, under the current 115th Congress in June 2017, the House again passed, HR. 2353, a bill similar to the one from the prior year.
Still, it wasn’t until a year later, at the start of this summer that things started really steaming up fast. On June 26th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee held a mark-up working from the House legislation to offer a bipartisan chairman’s amendment, S. 3217, with significant changes. (Read our blog on the Senate legislation here which includes examples of afterschool and summer programs helping students get credits, certificates, experience, and exposure in careers).
S. 3217 passed the full Senate on July 23 by voice vote, and two days later, on July 25, 20 the House passed the amended Senate version, again by voice vote. The legislation then went on to the president to be signed into law.
The law authorizes funding at $1.229 billion in 2019, which is relatively consistent with recent appropriation levels, gradually increasing to $1.318 billion in 2024.
As with all new laws, the next phase will be implementation. Afterschool partners can get a head start by reaching out to their state CTE office. As in the past, the requirements for state plan consultation include: “interested community representatives, including parents, students, and community organizations,” so let them know if you are interested. Reach out to them and to local administrators (superintendents, principals, CTE directors) with examples of how afterschool and summer learning programs support students’ career pathways including in the middle school years and for non-traditional populations.
Working together with your state and local education agencies will help leverage partners and funds. Moreover, joining forces will provide broader, more effective opportunities for students, so that they can build pathways into meaningful careers that support their goals, their families, their communities and our national well-being.
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