King approved by Senate committee for top education post

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Acting Education Secretary John King, Jr., received a thumbs-up vote by a Senate education committee Wednesday, recommending that he be confirmed as the next U.S. Education Secretary.

King’s nomination, approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by a 16-6 vote, now moves to the full Senate for final approval.

The news came on a day when King called on Congress to reauthorize an education act that supports technical education programs in U.S. schools, and in which he also announced a new challenge program to help educators be more creative when teaching creativity.

King urged lawmakers to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides more than $1.1 billion annually for the nation’s career and technical education programs in grades 7-12, as well as in post-secondary institutions.

He also announced the Career Technical Education Makeover Challenge, a nationwide challenge aimed at encouraging teachers to design spaces where students can create and make things, blending technology and craft in classrooms or libraries.

“Today, every job that leads to a secure future requires critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, as well as some postsecondary education or training,” King said in prepared remarks delivered Wednesday in Baltimore at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. “The best career and technical education programs help students prepare for this future once they graduate from high school.”

Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center is a community center that’s seen as a role model for providing so-called maker programs to students from elementary to high school. Students can experience 3D printing, coding, circuits and electronic techniques in the Tech Center’s maker camps.

The technical education makeover challenge builds upon the White House’s Nation of Makers initiative, a maker movement that the Obama administration launched in 2014 to enable “more Americans to design, build and manufacture just about anything,” according to a White House statement.

King also announced a National Week of Making from June 17 to 23, which coincides with the National Maker Faire on June 18 and 19 in Washington, D.C. Makers around the country will convene in Washington to showcase their projects across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft.

The Education Department will invite as many as 10 winners of the CTE Makeover Challenge to the National Maker Faire and award a total of $200,000 divided equally.

The first round of application ends on Apr. 1. Award recipients will have from June to September to implement their design plans, and will showcase their constructed makerspaces in October at the World Maker Faire.

Reach the reporter at yizhu.wang@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @yizhuevy and @edscoop_news.

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