Investing in America's Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education

Archived Information

Investing in America's Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education

Remarks of Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier, Des Moines Area Community College Town Hall

April 19, 2012

Thank you Arne – for being here today to highlight this critically important initiative for our nation's economic prosperity.

I am pleased to be here at Des Moines Area Community College to discuss the Administration's Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education. The exemplary work that DMACC has done is simply remarkable – and it's true as the Secretary stated that the work going on here is indicative of the leadership Iowa has shown on this issue.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to engage with you all in today's town hall – and I hope that all of you leave here with the understanding that the President believes that education is a cornerstone of building an American economy that will last.

As the Secretary stated, our blueprint for the reauthorization of Perkins is designed to transform CTE and usher in a new era of rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE shaped by four core principles. Our four core principles are focused on effective alignment; building strong collaborations; establishing meaningful accountability; and placing a greater emphasis on innovation.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 introduced important changes in federal support for CTE. These changes helped to improve the learning experiences of students. But they did not go far enough to systemically create better outcomes for students and employers competing in a 21st century global economy.

We need to reauthorize and transform the Perkins Act. Here is what we are proposing.

Our first principle of reform seeks to ensure better alignment between CTE and labor market needs to equip students with the skills they need for in-demand jobs within high-growth industry sectors. Our proposed reforms will provide States with clearer guidance on establishing high-quality programs, and empower States to work with their workforce and economic development agencies to identify the occupations and sectors on which CTE programs should focus.

Our second principle of reform emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining strong collaborations among secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and industry partners to improve the quality of CTE programs. All CTE programs under Perkins would be funded by consortia to ensure collaboration among secondary and postsecondary institutions and their partners. In addition, we propose that States use a private sector matching contribution to strengthen the participation of employers, industry, and labor partners in program design and implementation.

Our third principle of reform is establishing more meaningful accountability for improving academic outcomes and building technical and employability skills in CTE programs. We want to provide states increased autonomy to select and fund high-quality programs that are responsive to regional labor-market needs. And, we are proposing within-state competitions.

Our proposal includes several provisions to ensure that competition will have no adverse impact on access for students, including those who live in rural communities because all students, regardless of their background, should have access to and be able to participate and complete high-quality CTE programs.

Also, we are proposing that States establish common definitions and clear metrics for performance to create high-quality data systems that enable meaningful comparisons and identification of equity gaps.

In addition, our accountability reforms include ways to reward local recipients that exceed their performance targets. These reforms are aimed at improving student outcomes and incentivizing the closure of equity gaps in CTE programs.

Lastly, our fourth principle for reform places more emphasis on innovation, by promoting systemic reforms in state policies and practices that will support the implementation of effective CTE practices at the local level.

In line with this effort, we are proposing a competitive CTE Innovation and Transformation Fund—administered by the U.S. Department of Education—to incentivize innovation at the local level and support system reform at the State level. The Fund would comprise up to 10 percent of the total Perkins funding.

As we usher in a new era of rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE, we must continue to support the expansion of programs with a record of success. This is why President Obama's FY13 budget proposal for a new $1 billion competitive fund to increase the number of high-quality career academies will be crucial to our overall vision of expanding effective CTE programs across the country. The proposal would dramatically expand the number of career academies by 3,000 nationwide and provide services to an additional half a million students--a 50 percent increase.

This administration believes that career and technical education is central to rebuilding our economy and securing a brighter future for our nation. Our federal investment in CTE must be dramatically reshaped to fulfill its potential to prepare all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, for further education and cutting-edge careers.

I am so pleased to have Secretary Duncan's advocacy and leadership for CTE reform – and I thank him once again for taking the time to spotlight this vitally important initiative.

We look forward to working with all of the students, teachers, administrators, and parents as we work to transform this critical investment in America's future. I hope we'll have your support as we work to roll out these priorities. And I thank you all in advance for rising to meet this challenge.