Senator Alexander applauds House reauthorization of tech ed bill, educators weigh in

Brandon Paykamian • Jul 30, 2018 at 8:59 AM

Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., voiced his support Wednesday for legislation he says will continue to bolster technical education in the state.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides about $1.2 billion in grants to fund technical and vocational job training for high school students, was reauthorized by the House of Representatives Wednesday with bipartisan support.

“At a time when our economy is booming, companies everywhere are in the market for skilled workers. Over 200,000 Tennesseans participate in the career and technical education programs funded by this legislation that will give them the skills they need to find a good job,” the senator said in an emailed statement to the Johnson City Press.

Johnson City Schools Supervisor of Secondary and Instructional Technology David Timbs said he believes the bill, last reauthorized in 2006, will help expand and bolster technical and vocational education at Science Hill High School’s College, Career and Technical Education program under the leadership of Dr. Julia Decker. 

Timbs said legislators’ support for the bill’s reauthorization validates schools’ vocational job training efforts, adding that programs offered at Science Hill aim to monitor local job market trends and meet their needs accordingly. 

“Our teachers really focus on the idea of work after high school. We’re fortunate to offer dual enrollment courses and industry certification courses right at Science Hill,” Timbs said Thursday. “The newly passed CTE Act provides validation to the work that we’re doing and, hopefully, will expand opportunities for our students and possibly even allow us to pursue evening hours courses for a larger segment of our community.”

Washington County Schools Director William Flanary said he applauds Congress and the White House for reauthorizing the legislation, but added states and local systems still need to make sure they use the funding wisely. 

“Federal legislation is like a Christmas toy that says ‘some assembly required’ on the box. When federal legislation like Perkins is enacted, we have to put it together in a way that meets the needs of Tennessee students,” Flanary wrote in an emailed statement. “To do that, each local school system will develop a plan for implementation of the new regulations that meet the parameters of the law’s intent. This typically takes months of study with the support of our Tennessee Department of Education.

“Still, the federal money we have received over the years through the various reauthorizations of the Perkins Act has allowed us to do things we could not normally have done,” he continued. “We’re on the cutting edge of robotics, computer numeric controlled tools, health science technology and many other areas simply because we had federal funds available to put us there.” 


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