Perkins Reauthorization Becomes Law

Congress Passes and President Trump Signs
Career and Technical Education Bill

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is thrilled to report the passage and long overdue reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (H.R 2353). The passage is a key victory for music education as this version of the Perkins Act includes mention of a well-rounded education (established by Sec. 8101 of ESEA). Through enactment of this law, school districts will need to provide detailed information on how they plan to incorporate a well-rounded education into their career and technical education plan. | Wavebreakmedia

By including the well-rounded education language in Perkins reauthorization, we are laying the groundwork for future recording engineers, music producers, audio visual technicians, composers and performers to receive high-quality, specialized music education. The key is that their education should go beyond technical considerations to address music literacy within public schools, supported by Perkins funds. Music technology will play an increasingly crucial role in the 21st century economy, and we must commit to providing access to high-quality technical programming for students who wish to use new technologies in creating, enhancing, performing, and producing the music we love.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment and Consultation Requirements

Perhaps the most substantive change from past iterations of the Perkins Act is the requirement that a local school district must conduct a comprehensive needs assessment. The needs assessment must be submitted with the district’s application (also known as a local plan) and must be conducted every two years thereafter. Additionally, districts are required to indicate within the funding application how they will support a well-rounded education with their local plan.

Another area that could prove to be helpful for music advocates is the consultation requirement for both the needs assessment the and local plan. This requirement is expanded from the past iteration of Perkins, and suggests that the following groups be consulted:  secondary and post secondary educators and support staff; state or local workforce or development boards; businesses and industry representatives; and parents and students. 

While the details and procedures for a Perkins needs assessment may be different, the local music education advocacy efforts NAfME has promoted for Title IV needs assessment would apply here. Music educators who feel their programs can benefit from these funds should make every effort to join their school district’s needs assessment team. NAfME’s Opportunity to Learn Standards can help educators with high school music technology classroom needs. If educators have students interested in pursuing music technology as a career, the College Board lists 55 colleges that offer majors in music technology. | lucky-photographer

What Comes Next?

With the president’s signature, the signed law goes to the regulatory phase of implementing and enforcing the law. Under Secretary Betsy Devos, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has not yet issued guidance on legislation as large as Perkins. In fact, ED has shown a very “hands off” philosophy toward guidance in this administration, using the congressional review act to repeal Obama era ESSA regulations and approving ESSA State plans which, critics claimed, didn’t meet requirements of the federal education law. Perhaps ED will take a more “hands on” approach with Perkins, as career and technical education has been a high priority for the Trump administration. Regardless, you can be assured that NAfME will be engaged with ED throughout the process.  

Thank You for Your Commitment to a Well-Rounded Education

We wish to thank Senators Mike Enzi (WY), Bernie Sanders (VT), and Elizabeth Warren (MA) for their tireless efforts in helping ensure career and technical education programs will support a well-rounded education.  Furthermore, we thank all lawmakers for working in a bipartisan fashion to enact this meaningful legislation

Tooshar Swain, Public Policy Advisor, August 3, 2018. © National Association for Music Education (