U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on April 19 praised Iowa’s leadership in career and technical education and used the state as his stage to release a CTE blueprint for the nation.
Secretary Duncan touted the partnerships among Iowa school districts, community colleges and employers, as well as the state’s pathways that allow high school students to earn credit at community colleges. More than half of Iowa high school seniors are taking community college classes.
“It’s a remarkable record,” Duncan told a crowd at Des Moines Area Community College. “We’d love to see every state in the nation duplicate what you guys are doing here in Iowa.”
Duncan capped off a two-day visit to Iowa at DMACC, where he unveiled a blueprint to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. The Perkins Act introduced changes in federal support for career and technical education.
The changes helped improve student learning experiences but fell short of systemically creating better outcomes for students and employers who are competing in a global economy, U.S. education officials say.
“It is no surprise that rigorous, relevant and results-driven CTE programs are absolutely vital to prepare students to succeed in the global economy of the 21st century,” Duncan said. “In the Information Age, the strength of our nation’s economy is inextricably linked to the strength of our nation’s education system.”
Secretary Duncan’s proposed blueprint for reauthorizing the Perkins Act sets aside $1 billion to transform the program in four key areas, according to the U.S. Department of Education:
- Alignment: Ensure the skills taught in career and technical education programs reflect the actual needs of the labor market so that students have the 21st century skills they need for in-demand jobs within high-growth industry sectors.
- Collaboration: Motivate secondary schools, higher education institutions, employers, and industry partners to work together to ensure that all career and technical education programs offer students high-quality learning opportunities.
- Accountability: Require career and technical education programs to show, through common definitions and related performance measures, that they are improving academic outcomes and enabling students to build technical and job skills.
- Innovation: Promote systemic reform of state-level policies to support effective career and technical education implementation and innovation at the local level.
Iowa Department of Education officials will play a role in the Perkins Act legislation by taking input from stakeholders statewide and then keeping tabs on the proposal as it moves forward, said Roger Utman, Administrator for the Division of Community Colleges.
“The fact that Secretary Duncan chose to release this national blueprint in Iowa is a testament to the very strong career and technical education partnerships and programs that exist here,” Director Jason Glass said.