Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Trump signs 1st major education law

It took over a year to make its way from the House of Representatives to the Senate, but HR 2353 from the 115th Congress, the so-called “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” was signed into law on Tuesday by President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump delivered a speech at Tampa Technical High School in Florida after officially signing the bill at the White House. He said the new law, which puts special emphasis on career and technical education, or CTE, would be good for the nation’s “booming economy.”

Technically, it was a simple reauthorization of the Carl D Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, last visited by Congress in 2006. That program is valued at $1.2 billion, but the new law allows states to set their own goals for CTE programs without first seeking the approval of the US education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

The new version of the law makes a few other minor changes but is generally in line with the president’s focus on workforce development. Among the changes are these:

  • for FY2018-FY2020, no state can receive an amount less than it got for FY1998
  • for FY2021 and each succeeding fiscal year, no state can get less than 90% of the amount for the preceding year
  • states can reserve up to 15% (currently 10%) of their within-state allocations for current uses
  • states can reserve 2% (currently 1%) of their allocations for leadership activities that serve individuals in juvenile justice facilities and educational institutions that serve individuals with disabilities

The bill also shines a new light on core indicators of performance, including state-adjusted levels of performance, creating a clearer difference between students who focus on CTE programs in high school and CTE concentrators at the postsecondary level.

The US Education Department is specifically entitled, under the new law, to award grants to eligible entities, including local educational agencies and area CTE schools, to create, develop, implement, or take to scale evidence-based, field-initiated innovations, including through a pay for success initiative to improve CTE student outcomes.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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