Carl D. Perkins

Carl D. Perkins



Carl D. Perkins

Carl D. Perkins was born on 15 October 1912, and he died on 3 August 1984 in the state of Kentucky. He worked as a teacher before practicing law and entering politics. He was a Democrat, and was elected as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948. He was active in improving people’s welfare and in matters concerning civil rights. From the beginning of his term, he demonstrated an interest in ensuring fairness and justice for all his constituents. He was instrumental in the fight against poverty under the Lyndon Johnson administration. He also supported the creation of The Economic Opportunity Act, which provided for the creation of the U.S. Job Corps. Under the Act, young people could receive free training and education, which was a prerequisite of the attainment of a high school diploma and a well-paying job (Cornett, 2011). Perkins was active in fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged in the nation.

Perkins became a member and chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor in 1967, and he held that position until his death. The role gave him a platform to advance his ideas, and he was able to sponsor many projects. He mostly focused on the public school system where he backed and proposed legislation such as the free lunch program and vocational education. It was this interest in education that influenced the Career and Technical Education program, CTE. His influence was such that vocational education and the federal student loan are now named after him, that is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 and the Perkins Loan respectively (Cornett, 2011). The Act was reauthorized as The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (or Perkins V) in 2018, and it will take effect in 2019.    

The development of the Act has enabled many young people to acquire middle-level skills in different sectors such as business, healthcare, agriculture, architecture, and many others. It gave opportunities for underserved populations, including those with different disabilities, individuals with limited knowledge of English, and people from low-income backgrounds, the chance to acquire skills and improve their lives (Lawrence, 2013). The Act evolves with the changing market needs, such that new programs are introduced based on market trends. The programs aim at serving the needs of the economy. The Act has given opportunities to the students who have no means to attend four-year colleges the chance to acquire skills that will help them get appropriate employment. The program is presently aligned with academics, covering both secondary and post-secondary levels.

CTE programs today integrate academics as well. This approach is in response to the changing market needs. People have to compete with others globally, and this has necessitated changes in the way the programs are offered. The curriculum offered today is rigorous and relevant for the current work environment. The funding provided ensures that those with special needs are catered for, the curriculum is updated, new equipment is purchased, different courses are offered, and technology is updated (Wang, 2009). In addition, there is a great need to ensure that professionalism is maintained. The funding caters for the professional development of teachers, administrators, and other professionals. Development of the curriculum has changed over the years, and its significance continues to be apparent today (Imperatore, & Hyslop, 2017). The current trends also informed the inception of new legislation.


Cornett, T. (2011). Carl D. Perkins: Appalachia’s voice in Washington. Retrieved from

Imperatore, C., & Hyslop, A. (2017). CTE policy past, present, and future: Driving forces behind the evolution of federal priorities. Peabody Journal of Education, 92(2), 275-289

Lawrence, H. (2013). Historical critique of career and technical education in California. Santa Rosa, CA: Informing Science Press

Wang, V. C. (2009). Handbook of research on e-learning applications for career and technical education: Technologies for vocational training. New York, NY: IGI Global

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