Contact: Press Office (202) 226-9440
Thompson Statement: Markup of H.R. 5587, "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act"

As co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus and the sponsor of H.R. 5587, I am happy to have an opportunity today to discuss this bipartisan legislation.

It’s no secret that our country continues to face significant economic challenges, and it’s no surprise that many men and women are worried about their future and their family’s future. Just last week, a Gallup poll found that 54 percent—just 54 percent—of Americans believe today’s young people will live a better life than their parents.

As a father, I can say there is nothing a parent wants more for their children than a life that is better than their own. When you hear that only half of all Americans expect their children to have a brighter future than they did, it becomes clear that we need to do better. And we can do better—not just for our own kids but for the neighbor who can’t find a job, the friend from church who struggles to make ends meet, or the high school student who doesn’t believe he or she has what it takes to succeed.

With the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we have an opportunity today to advance reforms that will help these and many other Americans—especially young Americans—obtain the knowledge and skills they need to break the cycle of poverty and achieve a lifetime of success. The bill will modernize and improve current law to better reflect the challenges and realities facing students, workers, and employers.

The bill will empower state and local leaders by simplifying the application process for receiving federal funds and providing them more flexibility to use those resources to respond to changing education and economic needs. These reforms will help state leaders focus on preparing students for the workforce—not duplicative or overly prescriptive federal requirements—and enable them to determine the best way to do so.

Other reforms will help ensure career and technical education is providing students the skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs that exist in their local communities now and in the future. To accomplish that goal, the legislation promotes work-based learning and encourages stronger engagement with employers—both in developing and evaluating career and technical education.

To increase transparency and accountability, H.R. 5587 streamlines performance measures to ensure secondary and postsecondary programs deliver results, helping students graduate prepared to secure a good-paying job or further their education. The bill also includes measures to provide students, taxpayers, and state and local leaders the information they need to hold CTE programs accountable for delivering those results.

Finally, H. R. 5587 will reduce the federal role in career and technical education and limiting opportunities for the federal government to intervene in state and local decisions, and preventing political favoritism.

These reforms and others in this bipartisan bill will improve CTE for the many students who rely on it to help them pursue their dreams and accomplish their goals. And I’m confident they will also help more students do the same.

The substitute amendment I am offering makes a number of changes, including technical clarifications, to the underlying bill. Among them are changes to clarify eligibility requirements for postsecondary institutions and the innovation grants application process. Other changes will increase coordination between research and evaluation activities, improve professional development, and allow CTE funds to be used to support career and technical student organizations and to make instructional content widely available.

In closing, I’d like to thank Representative Clark and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the work they have done to move this bill forward. I urge all of my colleagues to support this important bipartisan legislation.