Houses Reauthorizes Vocational Education
By Fritz Edelstein
May 9, 2005
With a lopsided vote of 416-9 on May 4, the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (H.R. 366). Coupled with the Senate's earlier vote on March 10 (S. 250) to reauthorize the legislation, the Administration's effort to significantly alter the programs including elimination of the state grant program, has been rebuffed. The President's FY 2006 budget proposal transfers the state grant program funds to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as the source of funding for the new high school reform initiative.
After passage by the House, Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL) stated, "Now more than ever, it's important that American workers are prepared to deal with a changing workforce. Too many employers have said that they are unable to find skilled workers. The bill prepares our workers for jobs by strengthening vocational and technical education."
H.R. 366 strengthens and improves the framework of the current vocational and technical education programs without expanding the federal role in education. It increases the focus on academic achievement and streamlines federal funding to help state and local communities.
The final Senate and House bills will require a conference committee since there are some policy differences. One of these differences is how the Tech-Prep program is addressed. In the Senate bill it remains a separate program but the House has incorporated it into the state grant program which it believes will streamline funding while preserving the quality of Tech-Prep activities. Both bills try to strengthen the opportunities for coordination between secondary and technical education, and emphasizes academics.