Thompson requests $1B to support career and technical education programs

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) recently urged U.S. House of Representatives leadership to provide $1 billion in forthcoming emergency funding legislation for Carl D. Perkins state grants to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on student learning.

“Providing $1 billion in supplemental funding for Perkins grants will allow states and schools to update and expand in-person, virtual, and simulated hands-on learning experiences and incentivize employers to participate in work-based learning programs,” wrote Rep. Thompson and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chairs of the bipartisan congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, in an April 8 letter sent to House leaders. The lawmakers requested the additional funding for CTE in the next COVID-19 relief package.

CTE programs are based on a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training to help CTE students acquire academic, technical and employability skills in a variety of fields, including information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and the skilled trades, according to their letter.

“The public health emergency, and its attendant social distancing, has created unique challenges for CTE programs, which are based on highly technical experiential learning,” the congressmen wrote. “While all students are struggling to adjust to distance learning, CTE students have lost the critical work-based learning opportunities they need to acquire skills and credentials in CTE fields.”

Rep. Thompson and his colleague also expressed concern that students will be unable to complete internships, apprenticeships, and other work-based experiences in the coming months.

“Summer is quickly approaching — a time when many students participate in on-the-job training programs — and we must act now to preserve access to these experiences or risk our students losing another several months of learning,” the members wrote.