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America’s vocational laws reflect upon historical and emerging needs of the society. Many of the laws helped to solve unique education needs that arose due to historical challenges such as war. Current laws attempt to address emerging concerns such as the need for social equity. Though some of the vocational legislations are outdated, all the laws played key roles by legalizing the provision of quality education to all students in the country. Some of these laws immensely transformed the education sector.
Smith-Hughes Act of 1917
Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 act mandated federal governments to fund public schools below college level. It also introduced vocational education, which included programs such as trades and industry, agriculture, and homemaking. This act was one of the highly influential legislation. The reason it was influential in that it introduced features that helped learners to acquire life skills while they were still in high school. Such features included changing the curriculum of education in high schools, which had been academically oriented for decades. This was essential because it helped the government to produce high school graduates with entrepreneurial skills.
Another reason for the prominence of the act is that it provided leeway for children from disadvantaged families to acquire formal education. The act was the first tool that disadvantaged children could depend on to access formal education. Since education was vocationally oriented, the act led to an increase in the number of skilled workers, in the labor market.
Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975(PL 94-142)
This act criminalized discrimination against handicapped children. It was another highly influential piece of legislation. The main reason for its significance is that it opened the door for children with disabilities to access learning opportunities just like ordinary Americans did. It outlined procedures of training handicapped children.
School administrations, teachers, parents, and guardians had the responsibility to develop Individualized Education Programs for all handicapped children. The act was also significant because it helped the children to develop socially. It required that disadvantaged children be taught together to help them grow socially. This unique provision made the legislation helpful to the children.
The legislation was also popular because it authorized the government to provide all handicapped learners between the ages of three and twenty-one with free public education. The law made life comfortable for children and their parents. The children got the opportunity to learn comfortably while the parents had no obligation to pay the school fee. Just as, the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 did, this act made education easily accessible for a majority of learners in the United States and led to an increase in the population of the skilled labor force.
Carl D. Perkins Vocation Education Act of 1984
Carl D. Perkins Vocation Education Act of 1984 complemented the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, which provided the foundation for establishing vocational training programs in high schools. The Carl D. Perkins legislation of 1984 also focused on solving the nation’s modern workforce challenges. This act gained recognition because it helped those who were inadequately served under the vocational education programs that were already in force.
Handicapped learners, individuals entering nontraditional occupations, single parents, individuals with little proficiency in English, and individuals who were incarcerated in correctional institutions were the greatest beneficiaries of the act. In addition to authorizing federal governments to provide vocational training to the disadvantaged individuals, it provided mechanisms for introducing learners to newer technologies, including the use of computers, which would help them meet modern occupational goals.
Additionally, the act was influential because it provided legal mechanisms for assisting the most economically depressed regions of states to raise occupational competencies of its citizens. It also authorized the national government to improve the effectiveness of consumer and homemaking education and reduce the effects of sex-role stereotyping on occupations, job skills, levels of competency, and careers. Moreover, the legislation strengthened the vocational education research process. In this way, it provided avenues for addressing current occupational challenges.
Carl D. Perkins and Applied Technology Education Act of 1990
The Carl D. Perkins and Applied Technology Education Act of 1990 authorized the largest amount of financial aid and reached out to the disadvantaged in the society largely. At the same time, it also focused on meeting challenges of the technologically expanding workforce. The vocational act was influential because it revolutionized all sectors of the US education system.
One of the sectors that it transformed is the secondary and post-secondary education sector. The act provided funding for Tech Prep programs that articulated vocation training between secondary and post-secondary schools. This helped learners to access vocational education services. In addition, districts with high numbers of students that were disadvantaged got supplementary grants for learning facilities and equipment. Another field that is transformed is the home and family education sector. It authorized immense financial funding for disadvantaged people who were learning in informal settings.
An additional key aspect of this act is that it authorized the government to organize career guidance and counseling for students who were transitioning to work. The government paid the counselors for their services. In addition, it authorized the government to provide funds for community education and model vocational schools projects.
The government had to establish model secondary employment centers to serve the disadvantaged members of the community. They also had to fund them. The government was also obliged to support tribally controlled post-secondary vocation centers and the National Council on Vocational Education. Unlike much other legislation, this one stated amounts of funding for all education departments and authorized financial administrators to uphold principles of accountability.
Workforce Investment Act of 1998-2005
Workforce Investment Act of 1998-2005 repealed and replaced the Job Training and Partnership Act. It made improvements and modifications from the preceding act. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998-2005 was influential because it increased flexibility at work to meet both state and local needs. The sole act authorized both federal and national governments to provide workers with the training they needed to acquire new or better jobs.
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In this way, it also provided employers with the trained workforce to compete in the global market. In addition, this vocational legislation removed barriers that discouraged business involvement in the training of their workforce. The act, at the same time, encouraged the government to influence job-training decisions in communities. Moreover, it required the government to improve access to vocational services in all regions, including rural areas.
Some of these vocational acts have either been amended or repealed. Nevertheless, they solved problems that faced educational and vocational sectors when they were in force. Acts that are still in force solve current workforce concerns such as the need for social equity and technological advancements.