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Public Statements

Vocational and Technical Education for the Future Act

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Date:
Location: Washington


VOCATIONAL AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE ACT -- (House of Representatives - May 04, 2005)

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Vocational and Technical Education for the Future Act. The bill has received strong support from educators, school administrators, principals, and vocational and technical education advocates around the country. In this bill, we are protecting the role of States and local communities, and we are asking for results in exchange for the money we are already spending at the Federal level.

The gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle) wrote a good bill and deserves great credit for his commitment to this issue. He produced a bill that has received bipartisan support in the committee while still fulfilling our principles for reform.

I would also like to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) and the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) for their hard work and cooperation in bringing this bill forward today.

This bill will improve vocational and technical education by focusing on academics without expanding the Federal role in education. We streamline bureaucracy and give more money to local communities. H.R. 366 reduces the share of funds going to State administrative activities and targets more funding to the local level. We also streamline funding by consolidating the Tech-Prep program with a basic State grant.

The bill also focuses on success at the local level. Under the bill, local communities will establish achievement targets; and to reward increased academic achievement, States and local communities can receive incentive grants for success. Above all, we maintain local control. The bill continues to move away from the so-called "School to Work" model of the past and maintains our commitment to ensuring that States and local communities have the final say when it comes to the educational choices for their students.

Mr. Chairman, I strongly support this legislation, which will help States and local communities strengthen and improve vocational and technical education and help ensure academic success for students. I urge my colleagues today to join me in voting "yes" on the bill.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, several of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have referenced the fact that our fiscally responsible budget may, in fact, require changes to how we fund various education programs. While we will have plenty of time to debate those issues when we get into the appropriations process, I think all of my colleagues realize the Perkins program providing for vocational and technical education around the country is widely popular with Members on both sides of the aisle. I have no doubts, no doubts that the funding called for in the President's budget, the funding that is authorized in this bill will, in fact, happen, just to set the record straight.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Illinois (Mrs. Biggert), a member of the committee.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of our time.

I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) and the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) for their work on this bill; and I want to thank my colleague, and the author of the bill, the subcommittee chairman, the gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle), for his fine work. While there are 435 of us in the Congress, of course everyone would like to make this bill look as though it were theirs and written exactly the way they would like to write it. Clearly, I would like to have that opportunity too, but that is not how the process works. We have a bipartisan bill, and we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

I also want to thank my staff, Krisann Pearce and Whitney Rhoades, for their fine work on this bill. I want to thank Denise Forte and Lloyd Horwich on the Democrat side for their work. As most of my colleagues know, we could not do the fine work that we do without excellent staff on both sides. They have done very good work in helping us get to where we are today.

Vocational education, as my colleague from California pointed out, is not vocational and technical education like it was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. We all recognize that those in vocational and technical education also need a strong academic background. This program, over the last several reauthorizations, has attempted to move to stronger academics; and we continue that process in the reauthorization that we bring to the floor today. It is one of the reasons why the Tech-Prep program, which used to be separate and in this bill we have merged it with a basic grant, although we preserve the funding, is not quite as significant as it once was, because Tech-Prep was intended to help encourage those in vocational and technical education from outlining a program where they would do 2 years at the local Tech-Prep school and then go on and do 2 years probably at a community college. By improving the academics across the board, I think it is good for all students.

I have two technical schools in my own district, Butler Tech, Butler County Tech and Miami Valley Tech, who offer wonderful programs and wonderful Tech-Prep programs for many of their students. They have articulation agreements with Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, and other community colleges to help put students on a path where they will gain the skills necessary to be able to go out in the workforce and have very productive jobs.

There are two or three million jobs in America today that have gone begging because we do not have employees and people with skills to fill those jobs; and many of them could be filled if, in fact, we have stronger technical vocational programs around the country.

So I would encourage my colleagues to support the underlying bill, and we are about to get into the amendment process, and we will see where that takes us.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, while I do not object to the gentleman's amendment, I would like to claim the time in opposition.

The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Boehner) will control the time.

There was no objection.

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment. Clearly those who take technical and vocational education programs ought to have the ability to take those credits and that time that they have invested in that program and be able to move on, if they choose, into, whether it is a 2-year school or a 4-year school.

What we have seen in the past, many students who were in vocational schools, technical schools, and who may have then decided to change their minds, did not have the ability to move on to get that 2-year degree or to get that certificate they may be looking for, or even a 4-year degree. And I think that the articulation agreements that would be permissible under this bill, with the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Wu's) amendment, are growing from State to State.

I know in Ohio, all of the State-sponsored schools now have an articulation agreement, a transfer of credit policy, as well, which I think will help facilitate students who want to continue their education at various schools. And I think the allowable use of funds in this amendment will, in fact, help students all over the country, and I am pleased to support the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Wu's) amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of our time.

Let me just thank the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Wu) for his amendment and thank him for working with us on this language. It is similar language to what is in the Senate bill. The gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Wu) is a valued member of our committee, and we have worked closely on a number of issues, and we are glad to support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, while I am not opposed to the amendment, I would like to claim the time in opposition to it.

The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Boehner) will control the time.

There was no objection.

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentlewoman's amendment. I appreciate her willingness to work with us on her amendment, to put it in a form that we think is acceptable. And while these activities are clearly allowed under the bill, the specific training that is outlined here, I think is, in fact, needed not only in her State of California, but all across the country, as we look at a lot of high skilled jobs that are out there, but yet no one to fill them.

And I think if you look at vocational and technical education in a broader sense is intended to help provide the type of skills necessary in today's economy. We think the gentlewoman has a good amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I claim time in opposition to the motion to recommit.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Boehner) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the amendment that the Democrat leadership is talking about would not do a single thing to improve educational opportunities for American students.

The Democrat leadership amendment has nothing to do with the bipartisan legislation that is being debated on the floor today. It is a partisan cheap shot aimed at the administration. It really has no place in this bill.

When USA Today first reported on the Armstrong Williams contract in January, I immediately supported the gentleman from California's (Mr. George Miller) request for an independent investigation by the Education Department's Inspector General.

That investigation has taken place and the Inspector General has concluded that nothing illegal or unethical took place.

Now, what happened with respect to the Armstrong Williams contract was stupid; but passing laws to outlaw stupidity is not Congress' job.

Now, the new education Secretary has taken decisive action to ensure that what happened in the Armstrong Williams case does not happen again. But I think what we see here today is what I said earlier, a partisan cheap shot aimed at the administration. It does not belong in this bill. I urge my colleagues to reject the motion to recommit.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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