Carl Perkins' Effect on Technical Education Legislation

Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson you will learn who Carl D. Perkins was, the legislation that he advocated to improve the quality of technical education in the United States, how that legislation has changed over time, and how that legislation has impacted career and technical education at the high school and post-secondary levels.

Carl Perkins Effect on Technical Education Legislation

Do you know this man?

Carl D. Perkins
Carl D. Perkins

You may not know his face, but if you teach any kind of career or technical education material, you have been impacted by Carl D. Perkins and his vision for improving education.

Carl D. Perkins - the Man

Carl D. Perkins (1912 - 1984) was a member of the US House of Representatives (1949 - 1984) representing Kentucky. He was the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor from 1967 until his death in 1984. His work on that committee paved the way for programs such as Head Start, the Perkins student loans for the underprivileged, and federal funding to help schools develop and maintain a career and technical education program.

History of Perkins Legislation

Since Carl D. Perkins first had a vision for improving career and technical education (formerly known as vocational education), legislation for technical education has gone through a number of authorizations and changes since it began in 1963.

History of Perkins Legislation
History of Perkins Legislation

Vocational Education Act of 1963 - Carl Perkins was a major advocate for this legislation to improve the quality of technical education in the United States at both the secondary and post-secondary levels.

Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act of 1984 - The act was renamed giving Perkins credit for the development of the federally funded program.

Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act of 1990 - The act was revised to assist economically disadvantaged students and to ensure that students were exposed to contextual learning. Contextual learning is learning in the context in which you will use the material--for example, using welding equipment to learn to weld.

Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act of 1998 - This reauthorization of the legislation increased the requirements for the contextual learning component, relaxed some of the strictures on how the funding could be spent, and added student accountability.

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 - The most recent reauthorization maintains the provisions of the 1998 version and provided funding through 2012.

Technical Education Legislation - How the Perkins Act Works

In its most recent reauthorization, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 requires funding of about $1.13 billion dollars per year from the federal budget. The funding is distributed to states based on population, age groups, and per capita income. State education departments can use some of the funding to manage the state program; however, 85% of the funding provided to a state must be distributed directly to school districts and post-secondary institutions.

There are 9 required provisions that states must meet in order to receive funding, such as developing and expanding the use of technology, providing professional development for teachers, and linking high school programs to post-secondary technical education programs.

States submit a plan to the US Department of Education detailing how they intend to use the funds provided to them. They must show that they will meet the requirements and are held accountable for meeting them or risk losing their Perkins funding.

In addition to the 9 required provisions states must meet, the Perkins act is very clear about what sorts of things the funding can be used for. There are 17 state level and 20 local level permissible uses for the funding, such as support for career and technical student organizations (CTSOs). These organizations include: FBLA-PBL (Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda), FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), FFA (Future Farmers of America), and HOSA (Future Health Professionals).


So, how have the various iterations of the Perkins act impacted career and technical education?

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