Commissioner Christian and Superintendent Arntzen Welcome the Passage of the Federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

August 6, 2018

HELENAAs July ended, Career and Technical Education (CTE) entered a new era in the United States. On Wednesday, July 31st President Trump signed into law the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the fifth iteration of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 1984. Commonly known as Perkins, this program distributes more than $1.2 billion in federal funding to states to support Career and Technical Education. Perkins has historically played a critical role in helping states advance CTE in secondary and post-secondary education, its footprint is particularly large in Montana education comprising the bulk of CTE funding provided to schools, two-year, community and tribal colleges.  

The new Perkins Act passed swiftly through the legislative process, enjoying unanimous support in the House and Senate. Some key components of the new legislation include more flexibility in the evaluation of programs, a directive for integrating business and industry into education particularly through work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials, and robust provisions supporting dual enrollment, an area where Montana has excelled in recent years.

Citing the success of recent statewide initiatives and strong collaboration between the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) and the Office of Public Instruction (OPI), Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian notes that:

“Our state has been ahead of the curve in implementing strategic reforms in CTE over the past five years, well in advance of Perkins’ reauthorization. We are well poised to expand these efforts through this legislation.”

Jule Walker, OPI’s Deputy Superintendent adds:

“We are pleased to see that several of the components in the new law support and elevate good work already underway across the state to modernize Montana’s approach to CTE. Last week, Superintendent Arntzen announced that additional state funding is being invested in CTE programs, which compliments this federal funding. This legislation has the flexibility we need to support our schools large and small.”

The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education receives and manages the state’s Perkins allocation, more than $5 million annually. Designed to support CTE in Montana high schools and colleges, the bulk of the funds are allocated to the Office of Public Instruction to ensure that high school students across the state have highly trained, technically skilled educators, curriculum, and technology to allow them to explore and engage in college and career options aligned with Montana’s rapidly evolving workforce needs. The remainder of the funds are allocated directly to Montana two-year, community, and tribal colleges to work on similar high-impact activities. Colleges leverage this funding to ensure that our postsecondary institutions have faculty, equipment, and technical training aligned to current industry standards and targeted to meet the needs of businesses large and small. Perkins funds are also used to strengthen partnerships, collaboration, and alignment between secondary and post-secondary education through programs like Montana Career Pathways and dual enrollment; Montana has received national attention for its innovative approaches to improving student outcomes through these programs.  




Blair Fjeseth

Communications Director, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education


Dylan Klapmeier

 Director of Communications, Office of Public Instruction