The president this week signed a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins CTE), likely to be the only significant education policy legislation to pass in the 115th Congressional Session. The bill supports the role of libraries in implementing education programs. Congress provides more than $1.2 billion in federal funding for career and technical education programs annually through the Perkins Act. Although the authorization for Perkins CTE expired in 2012, Congress has continued to provide annual funding.
In 2017 ALA urged congressional passage of Perkins CTE reauthorization and the inclusion of provisions in the bill that recognize school and public library contributions in implementing CTE programs. ALA efforts were successful as the final bill included several references that urge state and local disbursement of Perkins funding to consider supporting library programs, maker spaces and librarian training. The reauthorization allows states to set their own CTE program goals, providing an opportunity for school and public libraries to weigh in and advocate for the inclusion of libraries in implementing these state goals.
The Senate last week, by unanimous voice vote, approved H.R. 2353, the House-passed reauthorization bill, substituting the Senate committee bill that was approved days before. The House quickly approved a final version that was signed into law on July 31. Although passage of Perkins CTE passed easily in the House, passage in the Senate appeared to stall over several issues (not related to libraries). In ALA meetings with congressional staff, it appeared that legislators recognized that the window for any education policy legislation was closing with the approaching election, a fact that seemed to galvanize congressional action to final passage.
Two additional education policy issues of interest to the library community remain on the Congressional “to-do” list.
House and Senate education committees continue to consider a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), although chances of final passage appear to fade. ALA has expressed concern that the House HEA Reauthorization would sunset the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which allows some students in public service careers—often lower paying—to receive relief on college debt.
The Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA) reauthorization will be considered by the House and Senate education committees. Senator Reed (D-RI) introduced the Senate MLSA legislation (S. 2271) last year and Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) is expected to introduce the House companion after the August recess. MLSA has received bi-partisan support in the Senate and House which is vital to the chances of any legislation passing in the current Congress.
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- Perkins CTE reauthorization supports library role - August 1, 2018