Obama Authorizes National CTE Scholars Program

Today, President Barack Obama signed an executive order recognizing U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education (CTE). The announcement came in response to a bipartisan letter from U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, Rob Portman and Tammy Baldwin urging the White House to expand the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to commend the efforts of students who have chosen CTE pathways. Kaine, Portman and Baldwin, co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, are strong supporters of expanding CTE programs and recognizing the important role CTE has played in preparing students for a 21st century workforce.

“It’s important we send the message that CTE programs play a pivotal role in preparing students for the workforce and offer them a pathway to success,” said Kaine. “During my term as Governor, I recognized the potential of CTE students by developing nine Governor’s Career and Technical Academies in Virginia.  I applaud the President for celebrating achievements in CTE at the national level as part of the Presidential Scholars Program and I look forward to the contributions these students will make to our nation’s economy.”

“Career and Technical Education is a critical component to connecting students with open jobs,” said Portman. “In today’s competitive and dynamic job market, far too many Americans are finding that they lack the skills they need to get a good paying job, and I applaud the President for expanding the Presidential Scholars Program to recognize the success of CTE programs around the country.”

“Career and technical education provides promise for the unemployed or underemployed looking to improve their skills in order to obtain high-wage and high-skill jobs,” said Baldwin. “Our business communities have been clear on the need for a highly-trained workforce for in-demand fields and CTE provides the knowledge and skills that drive our Made in Wisconsin economy. I applaud President Obama for recognizing the critical link between helping students earn the necessary industry credentials and success in competitive workplace environments.”

The current U.S. Presidential Scholars program, which was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson by Executive Order in 1964, honors graduating high school seniors for academic excellence, artistic accomplishments, and civic contributions. Today’s executive order will expand the program to annually honor up to 20 high school students who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. The first group of U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE will be nominated in spring 2016.


Additionally, read ACTE’s response here.

Career Ready Act of 2015 introduced by Senators Portman, Kaine, and Baldwin

US. Senator’s Kaine, Portman, and Baldwin have introduced S. 478, the Career Ready Act of 2015.

The Career Ready Act would:

  • Encourage states to emphasize the importance of career readiness by reporting on the opportunities they offer, such as work-based learning and postsecondary credentials, to help ensure students can compete for good paying jobs
  • Help schools align career exploration course offerings and counseling to the workforce needs of the local community and coordinate with the requirements of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
  • Allow states to utilize multiple indicators of career readiness when they report data to the federal government, such as attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials or academic and technical skills including industry-recognized certificates, certifications, licenses, and postsecondary degrees
  • Strengthen the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant program in current law by
    • Placing an emphasis on career guidance
    • Providing professional development to school counselors by training them to use labor market information that educates students on postsecondary opportunities.
    • Building partnerships with community groups such as local workforce investment boards, businesses, industries, and regional economic development agencies