Perkins Act reauthorization would support vocational ed
- The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in the fall to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which hasn’t been updated since 2006, and now the bill’s future depends on the Senate and president.
- Stanley Litow, president of the IBM Foundation, writes for Wired that the reauthorization will help today’s students prepare for waiting “new collar” jobs at a time when it is crucial to connect career and technical education to current workforce needs.
- Litow hails the P-TECH model, where students can graduate from high school in six years (or less) with a diploma as well as an associate's degree in a STEM field and go on to jobs or four-year colleges without the need for remediation.
Schools today aspire to prepare students for college and career. In thinking about high-paying, high-growth fields, there are options for students who do not want to get a four-year degree before joining the workforce, and many schools are highlighting these opportunities for students. The move is controversial at a time in which promoting anything but a four-year degree has been seen as suppressing student opportunity.
Vocational training doesn’t have to lead directly to the workforce after high school, however. Many career academies open students’ eyes to the demands of certain sectors early, helping them master prerequisites for college-level coursework and understand the pathways they’ll need to take to be successful in their chosen fields. That early exposure can also connect students with mentors and internship experience that will help them later.
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