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Bipartisan education bills rooted in common sense don’t come along every day. When they do, they should be celebrated.

On June 26, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) passed an update to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act. This long overdue modernization of a bill, last updated in 2006, will help usher the U.S. education system into the 21st century and ensure it is preparing students to succeed in a rapidly evolving economy.

At a time when jobs outnumber the jobless, our education system must prepare students to fill open positions. An increasing number of industries, such as computer programming and commercial construction, have thousands of vacancies, pay well, and don’t even require a college degree. Yet these positions can’t be filled because HR departments from coast to coast can’t find qualified applicants with the appropriate skills. The CTE Act will help construct a workforce armed with the skills to fill these jobs, thus fueling the American economy.

Read the full story co-authored by Mary Gifford and Shawn Ehnes, Superintendent of Schools for the Julesburg School District, in The Hill.

About The Author

Mary Gifford

Mary Gifford is the Senior Vice President of Education, and Policy & External Affairs at K12 Inc. Ms. Gifford leads the Office of Academic Policy which conducts research on K12 programs and partner schools, provides support for the efficacy of K12 educational programs, develops new school models, and educates legislators and regulators about virtual learning. Ms. Gifford previously served as the senior vice president of the central region and supported more than a dozen schools in eight states. During her tenure with K12, Ms. Gifford has integrated iQ and Insight programs and has been involved in opening many new schools. She has led innovations such as proliferation of unique hybrid models like the YMCA and military drop-in sites and the development of an at-risk model. Ms. Gifford served on the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools for 11 years as an appointee of both the governor and the state superintendent of public instruction. The State Board for Charter School authorizes more than 500 charter schools. Prior to K12, Ms. Gifford was with the accounting firm of Sarvas, King and Coleman as the director of the firm’s charter school practice and served as the leadership development director at Mackinac Center for Public Policy. She also worked as the education policy director at the Goldwater institute. She serves on the board of directors for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and as the board president of EdKey, a nonprofit charter management organization that oversees 23 schools throughout Arizona. Ms. Gifford earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in education leadership from Northern Arizona University, and has completed coursework in public administration at Arizona State University.

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