Career and Technical Education Act boosts high school graduates

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This week, President Trump signed legislation that would update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. This legislation — which was approved by Congress with broad bipartisan support — sends money to states to fund career and technical education (CTE) programs for high school students. In the current fiscal year, states will receive $1.2 billion for these programs; Congress is currently debating how much to invest in FY 2019, but the figure could go up. (Each year, Congress decides how much to invest in these programs that enjoy widespread support on Capitol Hill.)

Changes to the Perkins programs include the explicit inclusion of computer science in various allowable uses. While current law doesn’t prohibit investing in computer science programs, the changes will provide additional clarity to state and local education decision makers. States can — and hopefully will — use these grants to expand, develop, or implement new programs to provide more opportunities in computer science courses.

The new law also aims to eliminate the burdensome negotiation process in CTE grant programs and gives students a broader range of options and paths to success after secondary education. States will have more autonomy to set local goals, including those for computer science. The changes will take effect in the 2019–2020 school year.

This effort is very timely. Our economy has evolved over the last 12 years; we need to ensure that students’ skills can meet the demands of our economy and that with the education and training they receive, they are able to step into the jobs of tomorrow.

Members of Congress thanked the president for his quick signature, including U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who, with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), championed the expansion of computer science education within the bill.

This is the first major education law signed by President Trump. The broad bipartisan support of the bill is a testament to the importance of preparing our students to be career and workforce ready. believes expanding access to fundamental computer science education will help all students prepare for successful futures.

Cameron Wilson, President — Advocacy Coalition® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.

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